What’s stopping you from asking great questions?
Do any of these reasons for not asking great questions resonate with you:
• You think you should be the one advising the client
• You think you already know everything you need to know
• You tend to think it’s ok to make assumptions and fill in any missing information
• You think you’re saving everyone time by not asking additional questions.
This might be the case. But what happens if you’re wrong?
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 the whole agency 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 agency on the right path to delivering the right solutions.
And 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 agencies are desperately looking to protect what they have.
Where possible they are also looking to develop new revenue streams from their existing clients.
Their success depends largely on how well they know their client’s business. To know your clients you need to ask great questions.
Your value as an account handler 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 agencies 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 agency account handler who is trying to sell solutions before understanding the client’s real problem
4. You discover the client’s real issues
Today’s clients expect their agencies 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 their agencies.
So while agencies need to know their clients well, the challenge is to make the contact they do have with their client count.
Asking compelling, intelligent questions allows the agency to discover the client’s needs and even drill down further to uncover their underlying problems. The more information we take in, the more help we 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 we 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 we don’t fall into the ‘mind reading’ game.
6. It helps build client loyalty and protect relationships
An account handler 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.
A client sums up
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:
“Too often agencies come in with the sole intention of telling me what they do and convincing me to use them … without understanding my situation and what is important to me. The person that impresses and gains my respect is the one that asks intelligent questions, asks my opinion, finds out what is on my mind and engages me in a discussion of equals – the outcome of which may be suggestions as to how they can help. It’s not difficult – just show an intelligent interest in me and my business and demonstrate that you can make a contribution. I will be willing to listen to what you have to say.”
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?
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