Asking The Right Question

When first meeting with a prospective client, we ask quite a few questions. We actually refer to this initial meeting as a “profiling interview” and our objective is to learn about the owners of the company and their business. Often we’ll take the questions two or three levels deep. For example, “you’ve indicated that your lead generation program is not performing as you’d like. Why do you think that is?”

Every time we probe beyond the obvious answer, we’ll get a response that lists several reasons why something isn’t working or why something can’t be done. In defense of our clients, most all of us respond like this because we are conditioned, almost programmed, to focus on the negative. It is far easier to blame the state of the economy or the choice of advertising venue or an inept salesperson—most any “external” reason for things are the way they are. The problem is that not one of these answers helps moves the company or person further toward their goals.

Our challenge in implementing a marketing program is to help the client focus on the “right” question: “How can I…” This simple change in phrasing opens up a whole new dialogue, one that is positive in focus, not negative. Let’s use the example I mentioned earlier, not having enough prospects to talk with.

If we rephrase the question and ask, “How can I have enough prospects to talk with?” several positive questions immediately come to mind. “Who exactly is a good prospect for me at this time in my business’ growth?” “Where do those people hang out?” “How can I best position myself to be able to talk with them?” “What are the questions they typically have about my product or service?” “How can I answer those questions and begin to build a relationship with them?”

See the difference? One attitude focuses on all the reasons why something isn’t working or can’t work. The other compels us to think creatively about positive change. Once we help a client begin to ask the right questions, business growth always follows.