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7 Best Questions to Ask Consulting Clients

By Michael Zipursky

In my last video I shared 3 Questions NOT to Ask Consulting Clients.

In this video I share 7 of the Best Questions to Ask Consulting Clients.

Here are the 7 questions. Watch the video to find out why these questions are so powerful and how to use them:

“What is your number one priority for this business unit during this fiscal year?”

“What do you believe needs to be strengthened in order to support achieving this?”

“What options have you looked at to achieve this…?”

“Is there anything that you or your employees are doing that may be getting in the way of achieving this result?”

“What is unique about your business compared to your competitors?”

“What was the main reason that you wanted to meet with me?”

“Who will be making the final decisions on this project and who will be in charge of implementation?”

What questions have you found effective to ask clients? Share them in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “7 Best Questions to Ask Consulting Clients

  1. James Yuille says:

    What timeline would you want to work to with this?

  2. Virginia Nicols says:

    Damn good questions and ways to customize them. Every consultant needs to have them imprinted on his brain (or on a cheat sheet!) Thanks, Michael.

  3. Being an outsider is the greatest advantage the consultant has.
    We can see the big picture from a higher ground where there is so little buzz and distraction and it’s through asking the right questions that we can share this clarified vision with our clients and help them increase the efficiency of their decisions.

    Thank you for the video.
    Be Victorious!

  4. Humberto González Lara says:

    Clients tends to feel they are always right. They assume nobody know better the business like them. Against this challenging barrier is what you are showing how to beat. The more you can gain in cultural fit with them the more the true situation inside companies will come out. In contrary sense,under low empathy,maybe apathy or anger or, the rest, is obvious. Thanks a lot for your great contribution to get the proper touch for a more effective approaching towards our potential customers

  5. Mark Wayland says:

    Here’s a suite of 3 great questions* that get clients thinking out loud and develops into a great conversation.

    Ask them to list their Top 3 (or 5) business priorities/ goals for the next quarter(?)/ 6 weeks.

    Then ask, “which of these priorities/ goals,

    1. interests you the most?

    2. are you most likely to be successful with?

    3. do you think will have the greatest impact on the business/ for your team?”

    The real power and magic occurs when all 3 questions get the same answer.

    That is, the goal that they are most (personally) passionate about, and (professionally) capable of successfully achieving with, aligns with the goal that has the most (business) impact for their slice of the company.

    The other conversation you are likely to have deals with the challenge that, as you may expect, that there is little conscious or formal alignment between the 3 answers.

    And it’s here that your consulting/coaching skills will shine because it’s not really about the priorities or goals. It’s really about the mismatch between what they themselves personally want, what they think they professionally should do, and whether they truly have a grasp on what will make-a-difference to the business.

    And BTW, the 3 questions are most powerful when asked, and discussed, in that order.

    (* inspiration from Anthony Tjan in HBR Aug 09)

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