Clients can't stand it when your meeting with them turns into you talking at them for 15 or 20 minutes. PowerPoint presentations are just as bad.
What clients want is to have a conversation with you where you uncover and discuss their situation and how you can help. You initiate that by asking "power questions," says Andrew Sobel, co-author of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others.
"I was talking with [a CEO of a billion dollar company] about his most trusted advisors, and he said to me in talking about first meetings when he first meets with potential service providers, 'You know, Andrew, I can always tell how experienced a consultant or banker or lawyer is by the quality of the questions they ask when they come into my office.' He didn't say by how clever they are or how well they name-drop or anything like that. And I've heard that literally from hundreds and hundreds of clients," says Sobel.
When meeting with a potential client, focus on two types of questions: credibility-building questions and agenda-setting questions, he says. The preparation you put into credibility-building questions will demonstrate your expertise, and agenda-setting questions get to the heart of the client's priorities.
"If you are able to ask really good credibility-building questions and then also these kind of interesting and intriguing agenda-setting questions, most clients are going to be highly engaged," says Sobel.
Listen as Sobel discusses:
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