By Rick Toone
Do you make this mistake when working with consultants?
“What’s your favorite color?” he asked.
“I don’t like yellow,” she replied.
“Where do you want to meet for dinner?” he asked.
“I don’t want to go to Applebees,” she stated.
When you ask a question and don’t get a direct answer it doesn’t move the conversation forward. If you listed all of the colors or restaurants you didn’t like it would take hours and the listener would still have to guess the correct answer.
In consulting we ask a lot of questions. Sometimes it’s to help us get to the bottom of a situation. Others it’s informational to help us decipher the truth. Entrepreneurs are good at not telling the truth or not answering the questions.
Depending on the question and needed answer it reveals a lot about the person. For example, recently I sent the “standard” get to know you document to a new client and one of the questions I always ask is: When you think of your business what color do you see? Followed by — What is your favorite color?
As a consultant who mainly works on video projects these are questions that help me to keep a cohesive theme for clients when representing their visual persona. So while the questions don’t seem to matter much to the client it helps me get as many elements right from the beginning and saves time and email clarification later on.
Color is such an important part of business for how it makes us feel as well as establishing a look and representation of the business.
My career has been about getting the color and shape correct. It’s also about other factors. Get these right and you’re 80% ahead of the game. When I get the story right with moving color and shapes then I have done my job.
So that’s my perspective — but what about other incorrect answers that aren’t really answers but statements.
He asks, “What is your MRR (Monthly recurring revenue)?”
She answers, “We have about 150 people paying monthly.”
He asks, “At what rate are they paying?”
She answers, “It varies on when they came into the program — some are paying $75 a month some are paying $125 a month, and others are paying $30 a week.”
He asks, “Do you have paper and pencil handy?”
She says, “Oh, you want to know what the actual MMR is?”
You understand the problem here.
Questions aren’t meant to be misleading when someone is trying to help you. All we’re trying to do is gather information so we can help you improve your business. Often we realize that communication is a concern. Listening as well as responding with correct relevant information saves us all time and gets solutions faster.
So next time someone asks you what your favorite color is, how will you respond?