It seems that the original concept of the elevator pitch is increasingly applied to the canned 30 second response to the “what do you do?” question at cocktail parties and networking events. Which is all well and good when introducing yourself to potential new contacts, prospects and clients, but what about when you get in the elevator with a client or prospect that already knows you?
Do you have an elevator question?
Or do you talk about the weather, the game last night or just smile politely?
Now I’m not going to suggest that you corner your prospect with your most penetrating question in the elevator, but we all know that the secret to effective relationship development and business development is asking great questions. While it would be great if you could have a canned question, just like your canned elevator pitch, the reality is you need to adapt your questioning to the situation, reflecting how well you know the person, the reason for your meeting, the time available etc. So ensuring you have a set of questions and a strategy for using them during the incredibly valuable face time you have with a client or prospect is vital.
In our experience, this isn’t always something that professionals are good at doing. As experts, they often prefer to show what they know, than explore what they don’t. But clients don’t really care about what their attorney’s or CPAs know other than when it solves their problem – and you can’t solve their problem if you don’t understand their business, their situation and their needs.
In fact we’re just about to start a program with a large professional services firm to equip their professionals with better questions. This firm has recognized, largely from its own client feedback, that it needs to do a better job of understanding the client’s business and that asking good questions is an important part of that process.
Do your firms professionals really understand their clients businesses, and if not, how do they plan to find out?
Discussion & Action Steps
- As you think about the next meeting you have with a client or prospect, what are the questions you should be asking that will help you better understand the client, their business, their needs and their interests.
- And to get started – what’s your elevator question?