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Ask Why?


One of the most powerful questions you can ask your clients is “Why?”

When they tell you that the product they recently launched isn’t performing well, ask Why?

If your client is experiencing high turnover at their office, ask Why?

The novice consultant would respond giving all kinds of suggestions and ideas.

The experienced consultant wouldn’t dare…not until they know more.

The best consultants and coaches aren’t paid to implement. They’re paid the big dollars because they know how to ask the right questions.

Your job as a consultant is to help your clients uncover what’s holding their success back…and the best way, the most powerful way to do that is to ask Why?

A Game Changer

It’s a simple question. A single word. But it can be a game changer.

I’ll share an example with you…

Let’s use the example of a client that wants to increase their sales. They have a sales team. The sales team isn’t getting enough calls. The calls they do get, they’re closing at a respectable rate.

The CEO might say, “Michael, our sales team isn’t getting enough leads, what should we do?”

The novice consultant would respond giving all kinds of suggestions and ideas.

The experienced consultant wouldn’t dare…not until they know more.

So here I’d ask, “Why aren’t you getting enough leads?”

“I don’t know, maybe our marketing efforts aren’t good enough…” he says.

“Why do you think your marketing efforts aren’t good enough?” I’d ask.

The CEO says, “Well, we haven’t really changed our marketing…come to think of it, we’re not really doing much except for our Yellow Pages ad and our ad in our local business newspaper. I don’t know if those are working…”

Keep Digging

“Why don’t you know that they are working?” I’d ask digging further.

You can see how the conversation might take place. I’m guessing that as you were reading this you could start to get a sense of why this company isn’t getting enough leads.

The more you dig to discover what’s really going on in your client’s business, the better armed you’ll be to provide valuable recommendations.

The next time you speak with a current or prospective client, be sure to ask “Why?”

Question: Have you asked “Why?” and if so, how has it worked for you? Are there any other words or questions you always ask your clients? Share in the comments below…


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10 thoughts on “Ask Why?

  1. TrevTrev says:

    And the response is often “I don’t know! Then maybe the next word in the series is ‘How’. How can you find out. Then ‘What’. What can you do to find out WHY.

    • TrevTrev – good addition. That can definitely help to expand the questions and frame of mind.

  2. Some excellent tips/questions to ask, Michael. Something I will remember next time I am at an appointment. Asking questions is so important and something I didn’t learn until recently.

  3. Errol says:

    Simple yet brilliant! We learned to ask basic questions – Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why? in elementary school. Good information Michael.

      • Omar Albashir says:

        Hi Michael, thanks for your generous post. If the client knows the answer to why, then his/her next step is to implement. Is there anything else the client would like to know apart from an answer to why?

        • Omar – the next step may be to start looking at next steps. But if your client knows the answer to ‘why’ and hasn’t fixed the issue until that point, there is probably something else going on that you need to uncover first. You should ask as many questions as you can to fully understand the situation to the point that you are clear on what should be done to fix or add value as needed to allow for the outcome your client wants or needs.

          • Simon says:

            A client told me he has not been able to win a business and wanted me to help him. I asked ‘ why have you not been able to win any business?’ He answered ‘ That is why I have come to you for help” I could not probe further. What should be the next question for me to ask him? The example given above tells us that for the consultant to be able to probe further with the question ‘why’ depends on the answer given to the initial question. What do you say, Michael?

          • Simon – you can ask questions to uncover what they are doing RIGHT and what they are doing WRONG. Then focus on the areas that need improvement.

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