8 Questions to Ask Every Client
If you want better answers, ask better questions. It is impossible to serve your clients and create value for them unless you have a thorough understanding of their organization. Information gathering should be personal, conversational, tailored to the person you are speaking with in the moment. When and how you ask should also be based on how well-known the company is, the position of the person you are meeting with and how much pre-approach research you have done. I recommend that you use the Internet, the library, LinkedIn and other sources to gather information before your meeting. Some of these questions you may already know the answer to and you will be able to impress the prospect with your diligence.
1. What is your primary mission? Try to find out why they are in business. The why will determine the what. Let me explain. If you called on Apple Computer with the presumption that they were in the computer business, you wouldn't ask the right questions or get the right answers. Larger companies will have their mission statement posted on their website, in their annual report, perhaps even hanging in their lobby. Pay attention to the words that they use and incorporate those words into your language.
2. How do you go to market? Find out how they reach their final end buyer. They may sell through multiple channel partners such as distributors who in turn sell to dealers who in turn sell to the ultimate consumer. Some may have brick and mortar stores and others an online presence and still others a combination.
3. What is the most unique characteristic of your company? Try to determine what makes them distinctive. How are they different from their competitors? Which leads to...
4. Who are your competitors? Find out how they rank in their product or service category. Are they the market leader, a new player on the field, a follower? Armed with this information, you can find out what their competitors are doing well and where they may be vulnerable.