Benefit of Intelligent Business Questions.
Do you ask intelligent business questions? I have been in business a long time and I have been advising many businesses of different sizes, and in many different sectors, about how to improve their performance, for more than 15 years. It is interesting to note how a point of view can completely alter the context and substance of a topic or question. To get the right answers, it is imperative that you first ask the right questions.
When meeting with potential clients, the conversation often starts with a series of questions that relate to fears of the clients. Once a bond of trust develops, the conversations then move to the frustrations that the clients are experiencing in their business. However, if the clients cannot get past the fear stage, then it becomes unlikely that I will be able to help them. Perhaps the place that the client should start is in reframing the questions that they typically ask me.
The following are the most frequent questions that I am asked when meeting with a potential client for the first time:
Top Ten List Of Questions That People Ask Me
- What does it cost?
- Do you do free sessions?
- Why would I need a business coach?
- How can I afford to take time out of my busy schedule to work on my business?
- I know my business better than anyone so how can an outsider like you improve it?
- My business is relatively small. How can I possibly afford management consulting fees?
- How do I find time to read all those business books from thought leaders?
- Why would I need a business health check?
- I never needed a business plan before so why would I need one now?
- How can I implement all the management and process changes I need in my business when I don’t have the staff or expertise to do it?
The following are the questions that the potential clients should in fact be asking me. They are essentially the same questions but they have been reframed to get more useful answers:
Top Ten List Of Questions That People Should Be Asking Me
- How can I get a return on any investment I make in improving my business?
- How can I get value from my interactions with you?
- How can I benefit from the knowledge and experience of a business coach?
- How can I improve my business if I don’t take time out to work on improving it?
- How can your business knowledge and expertise deliver benefits for my business?
- How do I make more money out of my business or generate savings that will more than pay for your time and expertise?
- How can you deliver the expertise you have gained by working with other clients, attending conferences/courses and reading books by business thought leaders?
- How do I move to the next stage of my business’s development if I don’t fully understand where the business is right now and how it is performing?
- How can a business plan move me from where I am now, to where I really want to get to?
- Can you help me implement the changes needed in my business?
The questions come from the same place – fear, but the intelligent business questions set looks for tangible answers that will allow the potential clients to get the benefits they need, whereas the first set is simply looking for reasons not to engage. If they take the first approach, they can then hide behind the excuses rather than taking actions to change the status quo. In the second approach, they are forced to recognize the issues facing them and this leads to forward motion.
The real breakthrough comes when the potential clients begin talking about the frustrations that they are experiencing in their businesses. This is about them, and the daily business issues that they are experiencing, and which are holding their business back. Once the issues are spoken about and given substance, then the client is in a position to begin addressing them and putting appropriate solutions in place, with the guidance of the coach or consultant.
Although many business owners believe their situations and frustrations are unique, I have yet to meet a potential client where they articulate something I have never come across before. The foundations of sound business practice differ little from business to business and from country to country. Sometimes it is just a matter of scale but the impact is usually similar.
So what is a client buying into when they make a decision to engage an experienced business consultant or coach? Firstly, they are gaining an experienced external sounding board that may not exist for them already. This gives them the ability to test ideas before making decisions that could have a serious impact on the business. Secondly, they are getting an external view rather a consensus view, which might exist amongst existing executives within the business. This consensus view is also known as Groupthink and there are many hidden dangers associated with it.
Thirdly, they are getting exposed to solutions to similar problems that have been implemented successfully elsewhere and this seriously mitigates risk. Fourthly, they are getting an experienced resource that can help implement the chosen solution, particularly when these skills or knowledge are not available within the business. This has the added benefit of delivering a skills transfer to existing management during the implementation phase. Finally, it is nearly always more cost effective to use a consultant to deliver what is needed for the business, when compared to the cost of hiring a full time executive in a particular role.
Remember, the cost goes away when the consultant moves on to their next assignment whereas the cost of removing an executive, whom you no longer need, can be astronomical. The benefits usually last for many years to come. However, it all starts with asking intelligent business questions