Provocative Questions: The Key Element That Creates Understanding and Connection

November 2, 2021

Ask, don’t tell.  

Be curious.  

Listen more than you speak.  

What do these statements have in common, besides being the rudimentary core teachings found in most sales training courses?  

They contain the wisdom of the powerful psychology behind asking questions. Asking the right questions is the key to forming and deepening relationships between the buyer and the provider. It requires the provider to be thoughtful and strategic. It doesn’t mean that questions should be read from a script, as most people can spot insincerity from a mile away.  

Who is the modern consumer?  

Before crafting the perfect, open-ended questions to engage your buyer, first, it’s important to understand the spending habits, trends, and buying process of the modern consumer.  

Leading the sales process with relationship selling may not be as effective as it once was. It’s not that the buyer/provider relationship isn’t important; it’s mainly because buyers value IQ (intellectual quotient) over EQ (emotional quotient) when making purchases and large investments. The modern consumer cares more about solving problems.  

“Relationship selling in the traditional sense isn't dead, but it is certainly dying,” says Brian Schumpp, North American sales and marketing manager at Future Metals.  

“What matters most to this next generation of buyers boils down to three things...time, insight, and collaboration. Be accessible and responsive at any time, provide knowledge and insight that they can't research on their own, and collaborate with them to show how and why your product or service can solve their problem. If you can provide these three things to the next-generation buyer, a great relationship will follow.”

Is Your Exhibit Provider Asking the Right Questions?  

In the world of trade shows and corporate marketing events, collaboration is essential for a sustainable partnership. And this industry is very relationship-based between event marketing clients and exhibit providers. It takes time to develop a trusting relationship, usually over a series of successful collaborative events.  

The key to better collaboration is for the provider to have a deeper understanding of your trade show program and corporate marketing goals. The key to this deeper understanding is through asking questions and being genuinely curious.  

If your exhibit provider isn’t taking the time to ask thoughtful questions leading up to the event, that could be a sign that the relationship is not a priority, or it’s taken for granted. After all, buyers are evolving faster than ever, their expectations are higher, and most providers are struggling to keep up.  

Steelhead Productions understands this which is why we’ve developed a core process of asking strategic questions to better comprehend the unique needs of our prospects and clients.  

Here are Sean Comb’s, Steelhead’s CEO, favorite questions to ask event marketers during the event planning process:

  • Who are we creating the space for? Beyond their title, what are some of the key demographics of the target audience?
  • What do we want the attendee to see, do, and feel while approaching, experiencing, and exiting the space?
  • Imagine we are at the end of the show, and everyone is really pleased. What will have happened at the show to make everyone feel so satisfied?

The answers to these questions are a huge part of the collaborative approach we take with our event marketing clients. Knowing how to mine for quality information as to what defines a successful event for each individual client helps to establish trust as much as it reveals ways for Steelhead to provide solutions beyond an exhibit structure.  

To meet with our curious team about your next trade show event, please reach out — we’d love to hear from you!