The very simple way to reroute a conversation to growth is reframing the questions that you ask or that are asked of you. As I've mentioned before, I often get these questions:
- When you started KISSmetrics how did you start your blog?
- When you hired your first salesperson where did you find them?
- When you raised your first round of funding how did you do it?
What I ask in response are these questions:
- Are you trying to figure out how you should do marketing for your business?
- Are you starting a sales team and trying to hire the first person?
- Are you thinking about raising money for your company?
This would have been a better line of inquiry to start:
- I’m figuring out how to do marketing for my business. What should I be thinking about?
- I’m starting a sales team and trying to hire the first person. How should I approach it?
- I’m thinking about raising money. Where should I start?
This would have been their best line of inquiry to start:
- I’m figuring out how to do marketing for my business. Here’s what we’ve tried out and these are the few tests we’ve found to work for us. What should I be thinking about next?
- I’m starting a sales team and trying to hire the first person. Here is who our target customer is, our average revenue per customer and what our sales process looks like. How should I approach it next?
- I’m thinking about raising money. I raised my seed six months ago led by this firm, it seems the profile of this partner is the best fit and these are the reasons we’re raising a round right now. What should I do next?
There are a few key takeaways in the evolution of these lines of inquiry:
- Favor questions with verbs in the present participle versus those in the past tense.
- Reframe questions to orient around the advice seeker.
- Provide context like a constellation.
- Ask what you should do next.