A business partnership is a lot like a romantic relationship: In successful cases, both parties find ways to complement each other, add worth based on their mutual experiences and challenge the other party to push themselves in ways that are rewarding and enriching. In business, the client and the service provider should be sure they are aligned in their values and headed toward a shared goal in order to achieve success.
When it comes to burgeoning relationships with potential partners, open communication is essential to establishing trust and ultimately securing a mutually beneficial and long-lasting partnership. At my company, the first step to working with clients is a thorough examination of what our clients value and identifying those deliverables that will make the client experience seamless. Knowing what the client expects as an end result helps a service provider work backward to ensure client satisfaction. Therefore, asking specific, concise questions will allow you to understand what clients value most and how you can provide them with the best value for their money.
Below are five questions you might want to consider asking potential and existing clients in order to understand what they value and what they hope to get out of their work with your business:
- What brands, companies or individuals do you seek to emulate when it comes to experience?By asking potential clients about what they admire, you will able to determine their idea of success. Break down to a granular level why they seek to emulate the brand, company or individual, and guide them to outline the specifics of what they hope to achieve in a similar way. Their answer will help you to define their end goal and coordinate your efforts toward the optimal outcome.
- How would you define value? You will not be able to understand a potential client’s values if they don’t understand them. Asking for a simple definition of “value” broadens the vision of the partnership and helps the potential client revisit their own goals so that they are more easily communicated and executed.
- What are the top three things you would spend money on? Asking the potential client to rate the top three things they would spend money on allows you to prioritize where you will spend your time in achieving your goals together. Break down the potential client’s top three spends, whether they are specific or generalized, and the reasons behind each of them so you can begin to break down your strategy to reflect their values from start to finish.
- Could you share an experience in which you feel (the service) has failed in the past? Asking potential clients to outline the negative experiences they might have had in the past rounds a complete view of what they deem a positive overall experience. This question also gives you a clear idea of what to avoid in your practices.
- What are the top three things we can do from the beginning to generate value and start our relationship off on the right foot? Reiterating the question of what the potential client values—but framed in a time-sensitive light—allows them to process their own priorities again and properly communicate them to you.
Armed with the responses to these few questions, you will be able to establish a full picture of what your potential client is looking for and how they define a successful outcome. As with any type of relationship, establishing trust and strong communication is essential to a long and fruitful partnership. Using these questions allows you to lay the groundwork for how you will embark on a working relationship with an aligned vision and goals in mind, thus setting you up for success from the start.