happy couple over contractThe first time you meet with a prospect, you have a unique opportunity to create a meaningful connection.  Sometimes just asking the right questions is all it takes to communicate expertise, professionalism, sincerity and intention. Your prospect is expecting the usual questions about products, services, time frame, etc. Those questions are critical, of course.  But we’ve discovered five thought-provoking questions, which will allow you to learn critical information and provide the perfect opportunity to inject your personal brand and position in order to help you stand out among your competitors.  The objective of this first point of contact is to ensure that your brand message is clearly communicated in an unforgettable way so you become the number one choice.

What specific challenges are there to accomplishing your goal?
Whether your prospect is just beginning the process of searching, vetting, purchasing, etc. or they’ve attempted it for a while, this question gives them the opportunity to share their real or perceived challenges.  Is there another decision maker?  Are there financial issues?   It’s essential to understand the situation from their vantage point in order to proceed with a strong relationship.

Brand Injection Opportunity: “Here’s how I can help you…”
If your prospect’s specific challenges relate at all to your brand, you’ve hit the jackpot!  If they don’t, you should still take this opportunity to acknowledge their specific challenge, your expertise or experience with regard that challenge, and state what you’re most known for in your industry and market.  Take this opportunity to make a direct correlation between your brand and their needs.

Is there a specific reason you’re looking to switch?
If the prospect is/has been working with a competitor, this question allows you to find out what went wrong without making any negative statements about another company or individual.  Your prospect will usually open up and share the real reason(s) they are seeking change.  Whether it was your competitor’s lack of knowledge, poor follow-up, a personality conflict, etc.  Once you have this information, you’ll learn what not to do, as well as whether your prospect’s expectations are reasonable.  Take notes and ask follow-up questions that are focused on solving the problem (not extending a venting session). Your note-taking is sufficient response for your prospect to know they are being heard.

Brand Injection Opportunity: “Here’s how I work…”
Focus entirely on your own system and way of doing business.  Make sure to touch on the things they’ve shared that seem to indicate the more sensitive points of why they’re making the switch.  Brand consistency is so important, so you should have this explanation of ‘how you work’ ingrained in how you communicate.  You want your clients to remember what sets you apart and be able to share it with others effortlessly.  A person who is organized enough to have an exclusive ‘system’ in place demonstrates a high level of professionalism.

What’s the most efficient way to communicate with you?
How many times have you reached out to a prospect with no response?  Some people prefer updates via email while others prefer a text message. Ask about the communication type (text, email, phone call, visit), the information they most want from you and how often they’d like you to communicate with them. Ask about their best and worst times for communication.  Communicate with them according to their preference (as long as it’s reasonable) and you’ll see your interaction rate increase substantially. Most of the time, conflicts occur due to lack of communication, but we’ve also heard of clients getting frustrated simply because they received a text message when they actually preferred a phone call or visit.

Brand Injection Opportunity:  “My promise to you is…”
If your brand is built around communication and clear expectations, this is a perfect set-up!  Be clear about what you promise in terms of communication.  If you promise to contact them with an update weekly, make sure to tell them which day and time you’ll be making contact, and then add it to your calendar and execute it faithfully.  Stand behind your promise and you’ll stand out!

What would need to happen for you to consider working with me a success?
This is one of our favorites.  The answer to this question tells you exactly what your prospect hopes to achieve and their expectations of your relationship. It lets them get down to the brass tacks of exactly what they want from you.  It will also allow you to circle back at the end and ask whether you have met these goals, which is a prime opportunity to ask for a referral!

Brand Injection Opportunity:  “My clients would tell you…”
This question provides an opportunity for you to share the great things your clients have expressed about working with you.  Take this opportunity to send them to your website so they can read/hear/view testimonials and be further exposed to your brand.  Talk about your high referral rate and connect that directly to your point of differentiation.

Is there anything else I should know?
This gives your prospect one more chance to cover all the bases.  Don’t be surprised if this question extends the conversation or even brings up more personal topics.  You may have a moment of silence as they rack their brain for things to share with you.  And when they do, take special note, because these are things they definitely didn’t want to leave out of the conversation!

Brand Injection Opportunity:  “The number one thing you should know about me is….”
This is your final opportunity to score big with the ONE THING that makes you different.  If they only remember one thing about you, what should that be?  Think about your personal tagline (if you have one).  That should be a clear identifier of what sets you apart, and the backbone of your brand.


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