What are the two most important business questions to ask a potential client?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. What Do and Don’t You Need?
Clients may not always know what is best for them, but it’s still your job to ask what they need. Rather than making assumptions, ask potential clients to outline their pain points. What do they want and expect from you? Equally important, what don’t they need? Use this feedback to customize your offerings accordingly — or take a pass. Every potential client is not necessarily a good fit.
– David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
2. What Problems Are You Facing?
As a design firm, we are often approached by clients who have a specific goal in mind. “I need a website” or “I need a new logo” are common phrases we hear. However, the first thing we always ask our clients is, “What problems are you facing?” Only then will we know if they actually do need a website or a logo because those are just two options out of millions of more successful routes.
– Matthew Manos, verynice
3. Who Are the Decision-Makers, and What is the Approval Process?
Entrepreneurs often launch into a sales pitch before they’ve even properly qualified a potential client. It’s important to determine if you’re speaking to and working with the right decision-makers and to understand the entire process for approval on a deal or project. If you forget to ask those critical questions early on, you may find yourself having to start all over with a new stakeholder.
– Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
4. What Are Your Expectations?
Make sure you are continually keeping track of a client’s expectations throughout the course of the project. As scope and expectations change, so should the contract. Discuss openly at the start of the project any risks of failure, budget overrun or consequences if things go wrong. Running through these what-if scenarios now will set the tone for honest discussions further down the road.
– Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.
5. What is Your Budget, and When Do You Want to Start?
We provide kitchen and bath cabinets nationwide, so the most pertinent pieces of information we can obtain from our customers are the overall budget and projected starting date of the project. Knowing their budgets allows us to determine the correct cabinet line to push, and knowing the starting date of the project allows us to accurately prioritize projects.
– Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
6. What Would You View as a Success?
What would you see as a success in working with us, and how can we over-deliver so you’ll want to refer everyone you know? Asking these two questions helps us serve our clients better and ensure they will be happy with the work we produce.
– Kelsey Meyer, Contributor Weekly
7. What’s the Next Step and by When?
With a potential client, always close with “What’s the next step and by when?” The next step of interest could either be setting up a phone call or maybe just asking for a reply. Either way, set the expectation. Never leave an outreach effort open-ended, but rather have an action in mind that you would like your prospect to take, and always try to set a commitment.
– Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize
8. Is There a Need, and Is it a Match?
You need to find out two things before working with a potential client: Is there a need for your product/service and, if yes, are they a good match for your company? Without both, it’s difficult to achieve a long-term relationship.
– Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
9. How Can I Help You Do Your Job Better?
“How can I help you?” and “What else can I do?” are two questions you should always ask your client. They want to work with you because they need your services/support and hopefully like you enough to share their business ideas and vision with you. Your goal is to help them do their jobs better.
– Trace Cohen, Launch.it
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