Being truly effective at asking questions and doing it skillfully comes not so much from being taught or schooled in how to do it, although it can be refined and coached to a point, but in communicating from a deep and sincere sense of wanting to help our clients.
When we truly care about and enjoy working with people, our ability to ask questions and get useful information is enhanced because we are asking those questions from a position of being interested in our clients and their well-being rather than doing it because it is required or expected of us. There is no script to use; it’s all natural and unrehearsed – except for a few basic items that are routinely asked of everyone.
Asking questions is the most effective when it comes from a curiosity of wanting to know information rather than from any type of prearranged or rehearsed format. When we really like people, take an interest in them, and want to help them, we ask questions of them to determine their needs and the best way to accommodate those requirements.
Rather than starting off a presentation with what we can do or how great we are – we will get to that in due time – we should begin by getting to know our clients (and other decision makers or influencers who might be present) and what they are wanting to accomplish. They may have certain needs because their current home doesn’t allow them to do some of the things they want to do, or they have some physical limitations that are restricting their ability to use their home effectively.
There may be areas of their home that have been concerning them for years that they just have never addressed. It may have been financial, timing, or just procrastination. Maybe they weren’t sure that this was going to be their forever home. Possibly their ability to get around well in their home has decreased so they are acting upon that situation.
Some of the issues that our clients are facing may be readily apparent from a physical inspection and evaluation of their home. They might voluntarily share some things that are on their mind. The rest we have to work for by having a conversation with them – not to complete a rigid interview format but just to learn what is going on and how we might want to propose a solution.
We can easily complicate the sales process by trying to take it in the direction we want it to go and trying to achieve what we want to accomplish. That’s fine to a point, but the entire presentation – a conversation really – has to about them, not us. There’s plenty of time to talk about what we can do, and what we have done in similar situations, as we discuss and relate it to what they need and what they want done.
Some people are going to be less clear about what they want to have done or what they might benefit from having us do than others. This is where skillful questioning becomes important so that we can uncover their concerns or apprehensions about making changes to their home, working with a contractor, or having strangers in their home – in addition to helping them verbalize what might make their lives more enjoyable or safe.
It not about making the sale as much as it is learning what we can do to help people and then getting their agreement to allow us to do it.