You’re about to speak with a potential client. You want to build rapport, find out what they like and don’t like, and figure out whether or not you can work together on mutually beneficial terms. But how do you start the conversation? What should you ask first?
The first time you meet with a potential client who does not yet know you, it is essential to build trust. Start with questions that put the potential client at ease. Your first question should be more conversational. Questions like “How is this weather we have been having” are open-ended and touch on a topic pretty much anyone can talk about, so it is a great way to start the conversation. The weather is a neutral topic that opens the conversation and gets the prospect comfortable talking to you.
Open-ended questions encourage people to keep talking, and they do not force the other person to respond in a certain way. Your conversational topic should make them think about their experiences because it opens up an opportunity to share your relevant knowledge and expertise. By asking questions like “How is this weather we have been having,” you allow the potential client to speak about what they know, which will help build trust.
A second question can be asking them how their day has been or what they have done so far. These questions invite them to speak more freely, and it opens up an opportunity for you to ask follow-up questions. Once people open up, this is when you can start asking more challenging questions.
If appropriate for your line of work, a third question that is great to ask would be what they are most excited about right now. Asking what they are excited about allows them to speak positively about their business, which will enable you to build rapport with them on a more personal level. After all, everyone loves talking about the things they are most excited about in their business and life.
What have you done so far to grow your business? This question can come after establishing rapport but before pitching your services. By asking them what they’ve already tried, it shows that you’re not trying to sell them on the spot… It also lets you know what to include or leave out in your sales pitch. You don’t want to tell them about a service they’ve already tried and didn’t work for them. Remember, the goal of these conversations is to find out what the prospect needs to pitch them services and solutions that meet that need and solve their problems.
You want to show them why they need your business.
After finding out what they are doing now and what has worked or not worked in the past, the following sales question is asking them what they are trying to achieve or solve. After you have built rapport, the prospect should be open to speaking candidly about their problems with your goal of providing them with a service that meets their needs. This question also allows them to uncover their issues, which makes it easier for you to demonstrate how your services can solve them. It may be helpful to ask leading questions here so they can feel more comfortable sharing with you.
After establishing rapport by asking the prospect open-ended questions and giving them time to speak, schedule a follow-up meeting. You can now use this to connect with them on a more personal level and sell your services. This is the time you want to ask questions that help you understand their objections, what they don’t like about other providers, and what their main pain points are right now.
Building rapport is essential because it allows you to discover the needs and objections of your potential client. Your questions should be designed to discover these issues and make it easier for you to help them. It also makes it much more likely to give you a second meeting, which provides you with another opportunity to sell your services.
Your questions should take cues from their answers to build a more personal relationship. Working on rapport will help you get past the initial meeting to a second one where you can make the sale.
Open-ended questions force the person answering them to choose from a list of responses or respond in a particular manner. When using these types of questions, it is essential to know what sort of responses to expect ahead of time.
Open-ended questions give the person being questioned the opportunity to describe their issue, feeling, or thought thoroughly. This type of question is essential because it gives you more information about your potential client and helps build rapport.
Five Questions That You Should Ask Your Potential Client Right Off The Bat – question summary
- What’s the weather like where you are?
- What are you most excited about right now?
- What have you done so far to grow your business? (Lead with this one.)
- What are you trying to achieve or solve?
- What’s your problem/issue right now?
Your questions should take cues from their answers to build a more personal relationship. Working on rapport will help you get past the initial meeting to a second one where you can make the sale. Your goal at this point should be to find out as much about them as possible while asking open-ended questions that give them room to speak freely without feeling pressured by time constraints or a sales pitch. Building trust with a prospect is half the battle. Asking open-ended low-pressure questions helps you build that rapport and trust and help you discover what problems the prospect has, leading you to know what solutions you can offer that would bring value to the client.
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