Business Journals Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in your community. Original article posted here.
Understanding and meeting your clients’ wants and needs is the best way to build trust, connection and loyalty. However, far too often, businesses simply assume they know what each of their clients is looking for. No matter how much market research you do or how many seemingly similar clients you’ve had in the past, each client is unique. So how do you know what a new client really wants from your business? All you have to do is ask.
Below, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 11 important questions your company should ask when onboarding a new client to build a strong, lasting relationship.
1. ‘What would make your life easier?’
Focus on needs. Customers don’t often know what they want in terms of features or services, but they can tell you what they don’t like, where the pain points are and what hasn’t worked in the past. Focus on pain points. Make their lives better and they’ll keep coming back. – David Kennedy, Corona Insights
2. ‘Can you assign a dollar value to your biggest challenges?’
A good way to start is to ask, “Have you ever listed out some of the problems and challenges within your company and assigned a dollar value to those problems?” Applying solutions to these high-cost problems will lead to great profitability over time and a higher-functioning organization. – David Underwood, TopSpot Internet Marketing
3. ‘What needs to happen for you to feel good about our relationship three years from now?’
One question that appears simple but can elicit a deep understanding of the client’s objectives and expectations is, “If we are sitting here three years from today, what will have had to happen in our work together for you to feel good about our relationship?” We earnestly record their response to guide our service. Three years later, we review with them and anticipate a positive response. – Sharon Olson, Olson Wealth Group LLC
4. ‘What hard number do you use to measure success?’
At the end of an agreement, if we sit down thinking the program was a success but the client thinks it was a miss, there was a huge disconnect in communication and deliverables. If you agree up front on what success looks like — with hard numbers associated with each goal — there will be no doubts about whether the program was successful or unsuccessful. – William Balderaz, Futurety
5. ‘What does success look like to you?’
No matter how beneficial your services are, you can’t achieve a partner’s desired outcome unless you understand what success means to them. Understanding what a successful partnership looks like for your client allows you to better serve them by intentionally setting goals that are tailored specifically to their needs. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
6. ‘What problem are you trying to solve?’
This question helps the client think of goals in a practical way while allowing the business to specifically align the solutions. It also establishes competency and intelligence, which leads to trust and strength in the client relationship. The solution is customized for that client’s problem and results in success. – Sherine Khalil, Valor Compounding Pharmacy
7. ‘What keeps you up at night?’
In my line of work (financial advisory in the impact investing space), I always like to start by asking our clients what keeps them up at night — especially now as we’re living in a particularly unusual time as a result of the pandemic. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact
8. ‘What is your vision as a company?’
Asking them about their vision as a company lets you help them picture a future with your proposition. This allows you to shape a narrative that your new client can easily follow. The climax of your story has to be impactful, dramatic and exciting for you and your new client. That way, you both have something to look forward to! – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. ‘What is it that you need or want?’
This is the most important question you need to ask a new client. When your solution aligns with your client’s problem, a strong, lasting relationship will organically be built. Your effort can focus on your expertise, and the relationship will flourish. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
10. ‘Why are we doing this?’
We love to ask our clients “why” we are doing something. I want to know what’s behind a request, a task or a deadline. This allows us to get to the root of our relationship and know what we are really working for. It gets everyone on the same page and we know what the real mission is — which can often get overlooked in the sales process. – Greg Rollett, Ambitious Media Group
11. ‘What’s one bad experience you’ve had with another company?’
We’ve all had that one epic breakup that we love to share over a cocktail or two. There’s no better way to understand a client’s pet peeves than having them vent about a bad experience. After hearing their story, at a minimum, you know their points of frustration, which you can avoid at all costs. – Jay Feitlinger, StringCan Interactive
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