Your decisions are only as good as the information you work with. To increase the quality of this information, you need to ask relevant questions to the right people at the right times in the right way.
This article provides some starter tips on how to ask smart questions in client briefs, and is continued next month.
Get high quality information from the start
Don’t blame clients for not giving you the right information. Getting high quality information is like fishing; fish don’t just come to you, you need to bait, hook and pull them in.
The information you need from clients to make smart decisions won’t just flow to you. You must cast a line out and hook it. It’s your job as a soloist to obtain the right information by asking smart questions.
Plan your questions in advance
Your objective is to get hold of all the information you need so that you can proceed and perform at your very best for your client.
You’ll need to do this when speaking to prospects, when being briefed by clients, during and after projects.
When you get the right information, an amazing thing happens. Both you and your client get more clarity. You can usually see the end result more clearly and the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Everything feels easier. You both feel more in control of the situation, and therefore you tend to feel happier and perform better.
These feelings will resonate across to your client too. When smart questions are asked in the right way, both of you feel stronger and more certain from the outset.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business relationships section.
So what are the smart questions?
These steps will get you started:
1. What am I trying to achieve for this client? Write this at the top of a blank page.
2. Draw 3 columns underneath: A, B and C
3. In column A, list: What decisions am I going to need to make along the way?
4. In column B, list: What facts will I need to know in order to make these decisions? There’s likely to be many.
5. In column C, list: What questions must I ask to obtain these facts?
You can then take each fact, and find out what question it’s ‘married’ to.
This planning should help to increase your clarity. Most people don’t give this any consideration and then wonder why they come unstuck.
But this alone isn’t enough! You can’t just fire off your list of questions to your client. You need to gauge who to ask, when and how to cast your questions out correctly. Get these wrong and the whole process can flop.
We’ll look at how to avoid that in my follow up article on asking smart questions.
Have you struggled on a job because you didn’t ask smart questions find out enough information at the start? Or have you faced frustrations in client briefs when gathering information?
If you have any stories or comments please share them below.