Asking questions is a simple matter. As a father of two bullies, I hear a whole lot of them every day. Even a little kid can ask more than 400 questions a day. It’s the best way to gain knowledge that will leave you wanting more and more answers. Questions are everywhere. At home, at work, during leisure time. How to save on bills? How to sell more to existing customers? Some answers depend on our well-being. Others in our business. In the business world, many people ask questions in the wrong way. It’s due to two reasons. The first is the incorrect target identification. The second is to suggest the answer we already have. These problems often occur in pairs. Let’s deal with them.
Wrong target identification
I have heard very often in my professional life: how can we make a product better than the competition? It is a good question. But, it has a poorly identified goal. There is a more appropriate question: what can we improve to make our customers more satisfied? Both questions are basically the same but have a different subject. Making a product better than the competition could provide more customers. Improving our products will make our customers more satisfied. It will result in more customers. In which case, a customer will be happier? The answer is obvious.
There are more examples of such business problems. Some time ago, we wanted more users to register on our website. We could ask a question: how to encourage them to create more accounts? Quick answer: more advertising, more oversized buttons. But, we asked another question: what should we improve in the registration form to reduce the churn rate? The expected result would be similar. In the first case, we would have spent money on advertising, attracting many new users to the site. Some of them would even create an account. In the second case we could achieve the same goal. Just by removing unnecessary fields and distracting elements without spending money. And that’s what we did. The corrected form worked as well as the money spent on advertising. What was more beneficial for users and our budget?
Another problem in asking questions is the use of suggestions. Some time ago, I took part in a 360-degree study. There were many questions about the staff. One of them was: What do our employees do wrong? The question suggests an answer because it implies that they must be doing something wrong. One of the easiest options to improve results is to find those mistakes and fix them. Unfortunately, this is not the way. A company that wants its employees to work as well as possible should ask what they must do to improve employees’ qualifications? The effect will be similar. In the first case, we will cut one factor, but others will remain. In the second, we will treat our staff as partners. The employee will notice his own mistakes and will not duplicate them. In the process, he will also learn new things. Which will be more effective?
Another example of suggestive answers answer suggestions I observed during some of the changes of algorithms by Google. Various people in the industry wondered: what to do with our SEO to cut the effects of Google’s changes? The question was a very reasonable one. But again, the answer comes to mind. SEO, Google. But, if we asked another question: how to diversify our traffic sources? It turns out that the answers will be completely different. The effect may be similar. In the first case, we will improve SEO according to Google guidelines. And we will pray that nothing will change in search algorithms. In the second case, we will find new ways to reach our clients. We will invest in a blog or newsletter. We will use the channels on social media. We will remind past customers of the existence of our offer. We will engage in better cooperation with partners. And we will do hundreds of other things that should have been taken care of much earlier. However, in this case, when Google decides to play us again, we won’t feel it so much. Customers will reach us in several other ways.
Many things depend on how we ask the question. The way we choose to solve the problem. The resources we divide for this purpose. Finally, the results we achieve. There are always at least two different questions that will achieve the desired result. It is not worth using the first one that comes to mind. Sometimes it is better to take a moment and check if we have identified our target thoroughly. It is also good to be sure that we don’t impose an answer in advance. This way, you can discover the essential & proper questions. Next time when the client’s welfare, money, or something else matters to you, consider that you might not be asking the right questions.
Author: Wojciech Drewczyński
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