"What If" Questions Help You Build Business... Now!
We all know that top producers in our industry are viewed by their clients as promotional marketing consultants or trusted advisors, not product vendors. In order to be viewed this way, you must uncover opportunities within an account that either increases revenue or solves a problem. And, we all know the proper way to do this is by asking all of the right questions, and learning as much as possible about the business you are servicing.
Now that I've told you what you already know, let's dive deeper into this topic.
Most of us have learned the importance of first-level questioning that helps us to get an opportunity to work on a project. However, to land really large business opportunities (programs) a more important second level of "what if" questions must be asked.
"What if" questions give you the opportunity to create a valuable solution for your clients—one that they have not yet thought of, and thus, are more willing to budget for and support.
The best way to summarize these two levels of questioning is to illustrate the principle through a hypothetical case history.
Imagine you have just landed an appointment with one of your target prospects in your area, The Smith Company.
First Level Questions -
- "Mr. Smith, what is the greatest challenge facing your company at this time?"
- "What is your marketing team focused on at this time?"
Mr. Smith: "We are focused on increasing sales by acquiring new accounts through the sales and marketing efforts of our team."
Once you have asked your first level questions, and have their answers, here is the magic of how the "what if" second level questions work:
Second Level Questions - The "What if" Questions
- What if—we could develop a program that would increase your new account acquisition win percentage by 50%? (maybe a three part mailing to new prospects over the next six weeks)
- What if—we could develop a program that would reduce your employee attrition by half? (employee recognition program)
- What if—I could design a program that would provide an incentive for your customers to buy more from you, and less from your competition? (client frequent buyer program)
- What if—we could design a solution that would almost certainly bring all of your key customers to your trade show booth next month? (pre-show invitation with an incentive to come to the booth for current clients)
Note: You may already have the ideas in mind that I have put in parenthesis, but you won't want to discuss them on this call.