Art Kuesel, Kuesel Consulting
Winning new business has never been harder. Competition is fierce and you need every advantage you can get. Despite this, too many business development professionals are not asking the right questions in their prospect meetings, and further, failing to translate the answers into meaningful value propositions that speak to prospects and win the business. The prospect meeting is your one chance to ascertain needs, wants, pains, and fears. If you do not do a good job of this, you will not be able to develop a winning solution that propels you to victory.
Here are five of my favorite questions to ask and why:
- Why have you reached out to us, specifically?
This question will help you understand what the prospect thinks of you. Did they find you on a list somewhere (meaning they know very little) or did they get a referral from an industry consultant who recommended you because of your expertise in the industry? Given what you find out in this question, you will be in a better position to shape (or change) their perception of you and your firm.
- What do you like about your current provider?
Even when a business wants to change accounting firms, it is not because 100 percent of the relationship is failing. Oftentimes, there are many things they will like, despite the reason to be out looking for a new firm. You will want to make sure your value propositions reinforce the things they like about their current firm. You also may find out they love everything about their current provider. What does that mean? It says to me, they have little intention of changing, are price shopping, and you might save yourself the time and respectfully decline to bid.
- Where could your current provider do a better job?
The answer you get here is like solid gold. You can find out where the current provider misses expectations and falls short. Whatever you learn here can shape a considerable portion of your value proposition. You may learn that deliverables were not always timely, so you will share your comprehensive engagement calendar, which will demonstrate your commitment to deadlines.
- What is on the horizon for you and your business?
This question helps you to understand the future plans for the business. Perhaps you learn they are seeking to add a new facility in the coming year. You can offer to introduce them to your state and local tax expert and your cost segregation leader after the meeting. This shows that you listen, can help with more than just accounting, and care enough to go the extra mile to help your clients be successful.
- What do you want out of your relationship with your accounting firm?
If you could wrap your firm in a tidy little package, this question will help you understand how your prospect defines that package. Do they want to see you throughout the year? Are they interested in help finding a new controller? Do they seek a referral for a labor and employment attorney? When you ask this question, you will be learning more about how you need to position your firm and package your services.
With the answers to these questions, you will have the right material to create unique and powerful value propositions that position you as the perfect firm for the prospect. In addition, while there are certainly other questions you will want to ask that ascertain needs, wants, pains, and fears, these should give you an advantage with your very next opportunity. Happy hunting!