When you keep getting the wrong answer, perhaps you’re asking the wrong question.
Fine, but what is the right question?
I’ll admit, there is nothing more frustrating than the phrase “ask the right question.”
Still, it’s important. Tony Robbins has said that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. The same could be said for your business.
So, how do we ensure we are asking those questions that will give us the insights we need?
If you find yourself struggling, here are eight tips to get you on the right track…
1. Understand Your Ultimate Goal
Instead of asking basic questions like, “How can I get more likes on Facebook?” try and connect your questions back to the bigger picture. If your ultimate goal is to maximize your monthly revenue, then a better question might be, “What is the average Facebook like worth to my business?”
2. How Can You Create Mutual Benefit?
While it’s important to prioritize your own goals, needs, and wants, if those goals conflict with the goals of your clients or customers, they can be counterproductive. For example, instead of asking, “Will this new product make me lots of money?” the question then becomes, “How can I provide real value to my customers so they keep coming back?”
3. Boil the Problem Down to the Simplest Elements
Complex questions create confusion and ultimately generate even more complexity. The hard part is boiling your problem down to its most basic elements. Steve Jobs said that, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
4. Focus on Real-World Solutions
During brainstorming sessions, it’s common to get caught up in “what if” questions and ideal scenarios. These are fine, but when it comes time make decisions, your questions should be rooted in real-world customer behavior and analytics. For example, have you bothered to ask your customers what they want from you?
5. Consider How You Frame It
The questions you ask can create a frame of reference around a particular issue. In fact, framing your questions in different ways can lead to wildly different outcomes.
The most obvious example of this is positive and negative framing. For example, “How did we achieve an 80% success rate?” frames an event differently than “Why did our product fail for two out of 10 customers?” When crafting questions, always consider how you are framing the issue.
6. Establish Some Agreed Facts
Don’t just assume that your team is on the same page. If everyone can agree on a starting point, then they’re more likely to agree on which questions are the important ones to ask.
7. Remove Ambiguity
If something is vague or unclear, focus on questions that remove the ambiguity from the situation. Consider the causes of a particular issue, ask for data or stats to clear up disagreements, and never accept “unknowns” as inevitable.
8. Dare to Challenge Everything
What if you’re building a house of cards that no one else can see because they’re buried in the details? What if you take the common sense assumptions you’ve been working with, and flip them upside down?
Don’t be afraid to play Devil’s advocate or ask the tough questions. It may be frustrating for others, but it could save you from a disaster in the long run.
For more tips on how to take your business and marketing to the next level, check my interview with Growth Strategist Brad Costanzo on the Marketing Speak podcast.