Great teachers instil in their pupils that there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  And that if you’re wondering, so probably are others.  They’re just not raising their hands.  Most likely for the same reason.  Not wanting to appear dumb.

Realise that every question is a great opportunity to communicate in an uplifting way.  How you respond is critical to building an on-going relationship of trust.

This is especially true if you’re delivering high value consulting such as financial planning, stock broking, property investment, or TAX etc., where your clients come to you as the specialist, for your expertise, trusting your advice.

Your response will either build or erode trust.  So before you react think of the outcome you want to achieve.  Walk a mile in their shoes.

Approach every question as an opportunity to improve.

First, directly answer the question.  Less is more.  Don’t bombard them with everything you know about the subject.  Ask if that response is enough or what area they’d like clarification on.  Then only answer those areas.

Then ask them about why they’re asking the question.  Find out what triggered the question in the first place?  Is it based on fear or lack of knowledge?  That something is going wrong?  Is it a trust issue or do they simply not understand something you’re doing and want clarity.

What is it that’s missing in your process that you haven’t explained?  Could your client on-boarding be improved?

Remember, for every question one person asks, there are likely a bunch of other prospects and clients thinking but are too shy to ask.

And every unvoiced question acts like an unconscious objection.  Enough of these and you’ll either not convert the prospect or even lose the client down the track.

Going forward, here’s what I recommend.

Make a note of every question you get asked.  Tally them up.  You’ll find patterns.  Some questions will get asked repeatedly.

For questions asked by prospects, make sure you bring these up and answer them as part of your normal sales conversation BEFORE they voice them.  Remember, many will be thinking these but not ask, so pre-empt this.

For questions regularly asked by clients, create a FAQ list which you give them as part of the on-boarding process.

Doing this has two distinct benefits.

It saves you time as you don’t have to answer questions individually and your clients never feel inadequate by having to ask.

And even if they do subsequently ask, be patient and directly answer.  Don’t go into any long winded justifications about what you do or why.

Remember it can take significant time to build up trust, but just one ill-considered answer can destroy it.

Rashid & Barbara.

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