Here's a simple approach to the order in which you might want to consider asking different types of questions in business development meetings. We suggest that you start with the "so what?" questions, move on to the "what's up?" questions, get to the "what if...?" questions and finish on the "if only..." ones.
Here's what we mean:
Are general questions at the beginning of the meeting that can help to settle you both down, get the other person talking and generally set a positive environment. There’s nothing wrong with asking some “So what?” questions to get you started, but not too many and certainly don’t let the meeting get bogged down in those sorts of questions.
Are the type of questions that actually get you information and give you a greater understanding of the challenges facing your client or potential client. Ask good ones and listen carefully to their answers.
Now that you have an idea as to what’s up from their point of view, you might be in a position to offer some suggestions as to what might be done, in a “what if…” fashion.
If you've asked the right "what's up?" and "what if...?" questions then hopefully your client or potential client is now starting to reflect on what solution would really make their life easier and work for them.
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