After more than two decades of countless client meetings, I often don’t stick to the same checklist of questions that I used to.
Totally true–one of the latest questions I asked my client was “Why do you keep a semi-automatic pistol in your office?”
His answer revealed more to me about how much his business means to him than the majority of questions I had asked, and from that point on I knew HOW to frame my interviews with that specific company, that specific owner.
I listen a lot more now, use more analogies, get to know the PERSON who’s in charge, not just the company’s products.
BUT at the same time, I also ask better questions regarding the company’s products, including their inventory, shipments, sales tracking and profit margins–whatever the client is willing to reveal to me without my going over the line. As I get older, I’m learning how to push that line further and further to get more information that will ultimately benefit my client.
I look at EVERYTHING in the room, whether we’re meeting in a small office or a large warehouse.
I watch the how management interacts with their workers.
I check out their technology–are they on the latest Macs or on old Windows 95 computers? Is the person in charge adept at gadgets or would he rather use pen and paper? Should I design the website so it will also look great on the client’s SVGA monitor, as well as on 1920 x 1200 monitors?
I learn what the story behind their company’s name is all about.
All of this information positions me so that I can provide my customers with real value. This value translates into greater revenue opportunities for me but also provides me with a deep sense of satisfaction because I know that I am making a real difference in their business and even their lives.
Now it’s YOUR turn–how are you a great detective during client meetings? Please comment below.
Gerardo San Diego is a guest-contributor on JamieIrvine.ca and is a web content developer, writer, and design consultant, with over 20 years experience working with small businesses, schools and universities, as well as hospitals and healthcare providers. His clients include USC Keck Hospital, Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), and California State University (CSU). Visit Gerardo’s site.
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