Ask more questions first

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC


Cheryl, an advisor who consulted me to help her find and keep more clients, was questioning why I told her to spend most of her appointment times asking questions, rather than telling her potential clients about her knowledge and abilities.

“In the past,” she protested, “I spent as much time as I could telling them why I’d be a great fit for their needs.”

Like many professionals and salespeople, Cheryl assumed that, in most cases, she had adequate information before her meetings to allow her to match what she was offering to what she believed her prospects wanted.

But your prospective clients are looking for something specific that doesn’t always come up in their requests for your services. For that reason, leaping into the discussion of the benefits you offer — dumping it all out there — without knowing what that specific need is might be a huge mistake.

Ask more questions first

Find out what they’re already doing, who they’re doing it with, what’s working for them and what isn’t. Find out why you’re there. Then, talk about what you can bring to them — directing what you say to the explicit needs you’ve uncovered.

Even if they lead with something like, “Tell me what you can do for me,” don’t do it without trying first to turn it around — asking them what they’re looking for.

“You will be telling them about your knowledge and ability,” I explained to Cheryl, “ through the questions you ask.”

After a few new appointments, Cheryl called me to tell me how well it all had gone. She told me how comfortable she felt using the specific needs she uncovered in her face-to-face conversations as the basis for a later discussion of her skills and eventually, her offer.

Instead of telling these people how she could help them generally, Cheryl was able to show how she would be able to help solve their specific problems. She has already doubled her contracts this month — and all because she’s exercised a way of getting to know her prospects before trying to convert them into clients.