How to Set Yourself Apart From the Competition by Asking Great Questions

6 Reasons Asking Great Questions Sets You Apart From Your Competition

Lack of clarity leads to loss of revenue.

If we assume we know all we need to know and don't spend time clarifying our assumptions or asking for more details about the client's expectations then it could set off a chain of (time consuming) events that leads you, the client and your company down the path of wasted man hours.

Well-designed, well-delivered and thoughtful questions can cut through any potential misunderstandings, clarify needs and get you and your company on the right path to delivering the right solutions. Importantly, the client will have a completely different view of you because asking great questions makes you appear more assertive and in control.
6 Reasons asking great questions makes sense
1. You get to know your client's business

With increasing competition for new business many companies are desperately looking to protect what they have.
Where possible you are looking to develop new revenue streams from your existing clients. Your success depends largely on how well you know your client's business. To know your clients you need to ask great questions.

Your value is determined more by the amount of information you can gather than the amount of information you can give.
2. You can anticipate and respond to the changing situations facing your clients

By asking 'what's changed' and 'what's going to change', you can anticipate and respond to the client's needs and stay ahead of the competition

3. You can ensure answers lead to discussions on issues where you can help
Successful companies phrase their questions to clients carefully to ensure the answers they receive are useful and lead to information-rich discussions on issues where they can help. Without good questions you are just another company trying to sell solutions before understanding the client's real problem.

4. You discover the client's real issues

Today's clients expect you to be able to walk in their shoes and understand the issues they are facing but are often too busy to spend lots of time with you. W
hile you need to know your clients well, the challenge is to make the contact you do have with your client count.

Asking compelling, intelligent questions allows you to discover the client's needs and even drill down further to uncover their underlying problems. The more information you take in, the more help you can give.

5. It shows you are interested
Questioning focuses on the client's needs. It should not be about you, but them. Asking the right questions gives a huge advantage in showing that you are astute and, most important of all interested.

When the client is answering questions about their own predicament it keeps them more engaged and they're more likely to come away feeling that you really were getting to the heart of the matter rather than prematurely trying to offer up solutions. It also ensures you don't fall into the 'mind reading' game.

6. It helps build client loyalty and protect relationships

A supplier who asks great questions and uncovers what the client is struggling with in their business is seen very differently from one who simply presents self-serving solutions with no context.
If you show the client you are only offering solutions that suit their needs it builds trust. Trust leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to increased business and potential referrals to new clients.

This quote from the Managing Director of a pharmaceutical company who uses specialized healthcare agencies to promote their products sums up the client's sentiment in a nutshell:

"Frequently I get suppliers coming to see me with the sole intention of trying to persuade me to part with my money. They don't understand where I'm at or my business is at, they don't know what I see as the key issues I need addressing. The suppliers who end up getting my business are the ones who ask excellent, intelligent and thoughtful questions, they genuinely want to know my point of view - and they listen! They engage me and end up understanding my business much more. I find it impressive and they gain much more respect. The outcome of this dialogue may end up being suggestions for how they can help. It's not hard, but so few people get this!"

Can you think of other reasons asking great questions sets you apart from your competition? Are you asking enough questions to your clients? Have you ever experienced failure because of not asking the right questions?
By Jenny Plant
Image by Photo Rack
Jenny Plant has worked in account management for various advertising agencies for most of her 22 year career. She was General Manager for a global healthcare agency and now trains customer service skills to Account Managers.


1 comment:

  1. Your article is correct. When we ask how they feel and the 5W's it actually makes our job easier. People buy from other people who offer solutions that best fix their problem. How can you truly know their key issues if you don't ask?