Businesses survey customers regularly – so regularly, in fact, that as customers, we tend to ignore surveys. If you are going to take the time to ask your clients a question, then it had better be a good one. In any given circumstance, there is a single most important question you can ask to discover incredible value.
I had the good fortune to have Ryan Levesque, bestselling author of Ask. and creator of the Ask Method, as a guest on the Grow My Revenue Business Cast. Levesque helps unpack why most questions you ask clients don’t deliver valuable responses, and instead how you can rethink those questions to get better results.
The Question You Are Taught To Ask
You may have been taught to ask your client an open question like, “What keeps you up at night?” The problem with that question is that your customer might not know where they could use your help, and the first thing that comes to mind might not be something that you are good at solving. They may very well answer that question, “We got a new puppy, and he licks himself all night.” Now what?
Simply asking an open-ended question doesn’t work, according to Levesque, because people don’t always know what they want. But people do know what they don’t want.
Instead, you can ask something like: “When it comes to X, what is the biggest challenge, frustration, obstacle, or hurdle you run into?” In this example, “X” stands for the thing you intend to help people with. Ask your clients to be as detailed as possible in their responses.
Decode The Answers
Once you get your responses, you’ll see a common thread appear – and that can be misleading. In my business, I’ll get a slew of responses from people who write, “I need more leads.” They might also say, “We need more sales.” Our inclination is to focus on the most common responses. However, Levesque points out that the most frequent answer can be misleading.
Instead, Levesque suggests seeking the most detailed answers. In my business, it might sound like, “We have opportunities that seem good. The client is initially interested, and then they just vanish and we can’t get them to return phone calls or emails. We’ve tried a ton of different strategies, and nothing seems to work.” In this example, I’m hearing from the people with true frustration, who have done the work, and are truly seeking answers. The earlier, broad responses, are from people with wishes for change, but who may or may not actually be serious about finding a solution.
Ironically, your best customer is not the person who has never sought a solution. Rather, the best client for you might actually be the person who has tried several strategies without success. They have a proven track record of taking action while seeking results. If they see that you have a different approach with reliable results, they might not care about your price compared to that of your competition.
Here are examples of questions you might use for potential clients or even potential employees.
IT Services Company: “What’s the single biggest challenge or frustration you have with your current IT provider? Specifically, could you speak about those frustrations that have a direct impact on your business?”
Professional Services Firm: “What’s the single biggest annoyance you have with your current law/accounting firm?”
Potential Employee: “What’s the single biggest thing you wish you could change about your current or past position?”
Using these questions – or variations of these questions – in person or via an online feedback mechanism can help you sharpen your focus on the right opportunities for your business.
It’s Your Turn
What questions have you used to get great insight from your clients? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or on LinkedIn or Twitter.