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Great Questions Get Great Results

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Feb 13, 2012

When it comes to new client development, great questions get great results.

Professional recruiting firms exist to connect great employers with the top talent needed to meet their business goals. Firm growth requires those within the organization responsible for bringing in business—the sales professionals— to continually seek new client companies to serve. New client development is essential to success and the most successful recruiting sales professionals know that the emphasis is on development.

Small and medium sized recruiting organizations can compete with much larger firms when development of strong business relationships takes precedence.

Value is created in the eyes of the receiver. Value for me will be different than value for you, so you have to walk in your client’s shoes to know what will be valuable to him or her.  It’s easy to assume that we already know and understand the other person’s perspective, but often this is not the case.

So how do you create value?  By providing leadership, building relationships and delivering creativity.

Leadership provides direction. To provide leadership and direction, you need to know your prospective clients’ goals. You must seek to understand the obstacles they are facing, their fears, and what’s keeping them awake at night.

Relationships offer support and confidence. But building relationships requires you to know what your prospective clients have accomplished and where they are still feeling uncertain.

Delivering Creativity

Delivering creativity means providing capabilities in the form of skills, knowledge, tools, technologies, processes and systems. Although creativity and capabilities are unlimited, only a few will resonate with your prospect because they meet their needs or will help them reach their goals.

Chances are good that your prospects’ needs and goals fall into the following categories:

  1. Profit enhancement. They need to find ways to maximize revenues and minimize expenses. Their goal is to increase profits.
  2. Productivity enhancement. They need people with specific talents, skills and knowledge to produce enough to meet demand. Their goal is to maintain an effective and smooth running operation.
  3. Professional enhancement. They need to be seen in their organization as a leader who can attract the top talent.  They want top management to see their team, their talent and their contributions as a highly valuable part of the company.

One of the most critical elements to developing trust during the sales call is to ask good questions.  What are their needs? What are their goals? You are judged by the questions you ask.  Successful sales professionals prepare thought provoking questions that allow them to better understand the prospect’s perspective, build rapport, develop relationship and bring the prospect on board as a client.

So try starting your conversation with this powerful question:

If we were meeting here, a year from today, looking back over that year, what has to happen during that period for you to be happy with your progress? 

Why is this a great question?  First of all, this question is all about them, which is important to laying a foundation for developing a relationship.  But even more importantly, in answering the question, the prospect gives you valuable information from which you learn several things:

  1. Whether they want a relationship with you. If they accept and answer “If we were meeting here, a year from today…” then they are essentially telling you that they accept a relationship and initial trust has been established.
  2. Whether you want a relationship with them. Their answer will reveal whether they have vision and it allows you to decide whether you want to be a part of that vision.
  3. How they will measure success. Having a clear understanding up front about how your performance will be measured will help you determine whether your services can make the grade.

People do not want to be sold, they want opportunities to buy. You are offering that opportunity if your services or products help eliminate their problems, support their opportunities by eliminating complexity, or supplying additional capabilities that allow them to focus on their strengths.  This will maximize value to your client.

Which leads us to these great questions:

What are the problems or issues you would like to eliminate over the next year? 

What goals or opportunities are you excited about achieving over the next year?

What capabilities or strengths do you have that need to be boosted or amplified over the next year?

With these questions, you have laid the foundation for a game plan for their success. You are helping the prospect achieve some clarity about the future while providing someone to discuss it with— you!

Drilling down a bit deeper with your questions will open the door for establishing the expectations of the relationship. Understanding what both parties expect from the business relationship builds trust and is a key factor in a successful partnership. Questions that accomplish this include:

What are your priorities regarding this talent acquisition project?

Who is involved in the decision-making process and what does the process look like?

What obstacles are in the way of moving this forward?

How do you envision me helping you to reach your goals?

Now you have moved into a trusted adviser role rather than a sales role.  You are in a position to offer leadership, relationship, and services to assist them in this adventure.

Time to present those and close the deal.

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