Sometimes clients may not express their needs with complete clarity. They may not even be fully aware of what all of their needs are, or of the opportunities available to them. Careful questioning to clarify what you’ve been told can help clients formulate a clearer vision and can reinforce your credibility. But be wary of trying to impose your solution on their problem. Above all, you want to make sure you are both ‘having the same conversation.’
The questions that you ask, and how you ask them, can be a vital component in building trust and rapport with your client. Get it right and you come across as interested, attentive and genuinely concerned about their business challenges. Get it wrong and you will appear intrusive, aggressive or questioning of their judgement.
Here are a few pointers that should help you use effective questioning to create successful proposals and tenders.
Planning the meeting so that you have a small number of critical questions will allow you to spend the maximum time possible exploring vital issues for your proposal or tender.
Give them a few ‘looseners’ Getting information - Middle Ages style.
Avoid questions that need yes or no answers, particularly early on. You won’t learn much and they won’t get the client in a communicative state of mind. It can start to feel like a survey rather than a conversation.
Be careful with ‘Why?’
WHY do you want to do THAT?
Why DO you want to do that?
Why do you WANT to do that?
Try not to ask ‘why’ questions in a way that suggests you think the client might not have thought things through properly. Establishing your intellectual superiority might make you feel better but probably won’t win you the business.
Supplementary questions and follow-ups
Let people speak
Show them you’re listening
Learning how to ask questions effectively and how to listen to the answers are vital skills for sales and business development. Without them you may never know what your prospective client is thinking; which means they are unlikely ever to move from being a prospect to being a client.
Hugh Graham, The Bid Coach
If you'd like help to develop your questioning style to get the maximum value form every client meeting email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01963 240555