As researchers, we are naturally concerned with the importance of asking the right questions, and have already addressed aspects of this topic on our blog (link to blog on questions). In our recent focus on long-term client relationships, we briefly touched on the idea of asking power questions in relationship to financial management relationship building. While we continue to research the best methods to maintain long-term client relationships, we felt a further exploration of the concept of power questions would be a great starting point.
In our research, we discovered a book written on Power Questions by two leaders in the field of building effective client relationships, Andrew Sobel and Jarold Panas. In their book, Power Questions: Building Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others they introduce 337 questions which are aimed to help businesses and individuals with these three important abilities. Before we delve into some of these power questions, we are a little curious about what exactly ‘power questions’ are?
Sobel states that power questions “are thought-provoking questions that give power to your conversations. They also give power to the other person—power to talk about what’s important to them, power to lead the conversation where they want it to go, power to express their thoughts more clearly than ever before.” He argues that the point of power questions are to ask open-ended questions that force the person answering to be reflexive, while enabling a personal connection to develop.
In our series on financial management, we emphasized the importance of listening and empathy in building long-term relationships. Asking power questions, and listening to the responses, is the foundational element to establishing trust and rapport with your clients. Sobel argues that we should view our client relationships in health care terms, and that each year should bring a client check-up to ensure the client is happy with your relationship.
Sobel believes that “you should absolutely review the “health” of your client relationships on a regular basis. Here’s why: Most clients vote with their feet. They don’t tell you they are unhappy — they simply start to give their business to your competitors. Client relationship checkups can help you gauge the health of these relationships, prescribe changes when necessary, and identify ways to further grow them.”
For many business insiders, gauging the health of your relationships starts by asking strategic power questions. Recognizing that all business interactions are human interactions, and approaching each interactions with a willingness to learn and be empathetic, will certainly put you on the path to establishing a long-term, effective, and fruitful relationship.