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Smarter change

Asking questions: Getting context

Since all meaning is contextual then asking questions is one of the best ways to get to what your clients really want. Or what they really need and don’t know they want yet.

Here are some excellent context-eliciting questions you may want to dip into when you’re taking a brief from a client.

Remember always to build rapport and trust first. The easiest way to do this is through pacing.

The direct approach

  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What’s adjacent to this problem?
  • What’s the purpose/why do you want to get this answer? When you have that answer what will it give you? and then what will that do for you? and why would you want that (and so on, around 5 times, for a root cause analysis)
  • Who is this for? Who is asking for it?
  • Who else in the organisation is trying to solve this problem?
  • What do we / you already know about this problem?


  • What decision will you make off the back of this?
  • What are the consequences of NOT solving this problem?
  • What’s the impact when you get the answer to this?

Narrow it down for them

  • Is this about retention, acquisition or sales?
  • How valuable is this to you – are you prepared to pay for an external resource to get it done?
  • Priorities: based on the list of projects in train, which one would you like us to bump?
  • What are the constraints limiting your ability to deliver this right now?

Get it in writing and take time

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