by Paul Martin

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by Paul Martin


Questions pack power. They show you care. They cause productive thinking. Questions ignite ideas. Those questions make the Partner Opportunity Interview the most critical step in The Partner’s Journey.

partner-opportunity-interview in iEncourager's Partner Journey

Questions Show You Care

Demonstrate care and concern for someone else through your Partner Opportunity Interview. Questions indicate a genuine interest in understanding that person’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. When you take the time to ask questions, you are signaling to the other person that their opinions and experiences matter to you. This act of inquiry shows that you value their input and are willing to listen attentively.

When you ask questions you convey empathy and compassion by allowing the other person to express themselves freely. When you ask open-ended questions and actively listen to the responses, you create a space for the individual to share their joys, concerns, challenges, and aspirations. This fosters a sense of trust and connection, as the person feels heard and validated.

And that trust and connection becomes foundational to risk thinking and creating ideas for partnership.

Questions Cause Productive Thinking

Spark productive thinking with questions because they engage the mind in a process of exploration, analysis, and problem-solving. Here’s why:

  1. Stimulating Curiosity: Questions provoke curiosity and a desire to seek answers. When presented with a question, the mind naturally seeks to find a response, prompting individuals to delve deeper into the topic at hand.
  2. Promoting Reflection: Questions encourage individuals to reflect on their knowledge, beliefs, and experiences. They prompt introspection and self-assessment, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the subject matter.
  3. Challenging Assumptions: Thought-provoking questions challenge preconceived notions and assumptions, prompting individuals to consider alternative perspectives and solutions. This process of cognitive dissonance can lead to breakthrough insights and innovative ideas.
  4. Fostering Critical Thinking: Questions require individuals to evaluate information critically, weigh different options, and make informed decisions. By prompting analytical thinking, questions stimulate the brain to process information more deeply and comprehensively.
  5. Encouraging Problem-Solving: Questions frame issues as problems to be solved, prompting people to brainstorm solutions and consider different approaches. This problem-solving mindset fosters creativity and innovation, leading to the generation of new ideas and strategies.
  6. Facilitating Dialogue: Questions serve as conversation starters, facilitating dialogue and collaboration among individuals with diverse perspectives and expertise. Through constructive discourse and exchange of ideas, questions can lead to collective problem-solving and decision-making.
  7. Deepening Understanding: Questions prompt individuals to seek clarification and expand their understanding of complex topics. By encouraging active engagement with the subject matter, questions deepen comprehension and retention of information.
  8. Inspiring Action: Well-crafted questions can motivate individuals to take action by highlighting opportunities, identifying obstacles, and defining clear goals. By articulating the “why” and “how” behind a task or objective, questions provide direction and purpose, driving forward momentum.

And all these steps happen within an instant. After you earn a Lead’s trust, you can ask several key questions and help them quickly start developing creative partnership opportunities to work together.

Questions Ignite Ideas

Uncover latent Lead needs and desires with the power of your Partner Opportunity Interview. Often, Leads may not be fully aware of the problems they’re facing or the solutions they seek. Skillful questioning helps to unearth these underlying issues, painting a clearer picture of the prospect’s pain points and priorities. For example, instead of simply pitching a product’s features, you might ask, “What are the biggest obstacles you face in attracting new customers?” This prompts the prospect to reflect on their challenges, leading to a more nuanced discussion about how sponsorship can address specific pain points.

Even more, questions stimulate critical thinking and creativity. When confronted with thoughtful inquiries, prospects feel compelled to think deeply about their goals and explore alternative approaches. This process of introspection often sparks new ideas and perspectives, both for the prospect and the salesperson. By fostering a culture of curiosity and exploration, questions encourage innovation and problem-solving, paving the way for novel solutions and breakthroughs.

Again, all these steps happen within an instant. A few well-placed questions can quickly persuade more than a dozen bullet points on a slide.

Why We Have Trouble Asking Questions

how leaders discover powerful answers by knowing how and what to askBob Tiede in his book Leading With Questions, finds four primary reasons why we have difficulty asking enough questions:

  1. We avoid questions out of a natural desire to protect ourselves
  2. We are too often in a rush
  3. We often lack skills in asking or answering questions due to a lack of experiences and opportunities, of training and of role models.
  4. We find ourselves in corporate cultures and working environments that discourage questions, especially those that challenge existing assumptions and policies

So What Questions Do I Ask?

Questions come in all varieties and you can skillfully select the right questions for your Partner Opportunity Interview. Typically, productive questions come from

  1. Reason for Being Involved in This Business. Even if the Lead doesn’t own the business, they made a decision to join and invest themselves in it. This powerful question will help you gain understanding on their decision process and how they may evaluate proposals.
  2. Current business issues. These questions provoke good responses that display the Lead’s pain and can be an invitation for you to help overcome.
  3. Past Experience. When you discover their past experience with similar organizations and proposals, you also can prepare for key objections that will likely come in response to your proposal.
  4. Personal Preferences. What college do they support? Favorite sports. Favorite places they visited. Favorite activities with their kids. Favorite activities without their kids. These give you insight into what would be good to include in a proposal to increase its appeal.
  5. Approval Process. When you and the Lead review a proposal, what happens to get it approved? It is good uncover if your proposal could be declined by another person. (If there is another approver in the mix, politely ask to set a meeting with that person to ask your Partner Opportunity Interview questions to them. The approver almost always wants their ideas included.)

MacKay 66 show care for the clientHarvey MacKay wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and outlined The MacKay 66–a list of 66 questions that he expected every one of his representatives to know about their customer. Sixty-six questions are a lot, but he encouraged his representatives to ask a lot of the questions early in the relationship, then ask a dozen or so on each visit thereafter to compete.

Full Disclosure: At iEncourager we work with organizations to develop the Partner Opportunity Interview questions that will help discern whether a prospect would be a good partner. If it could be helpful for your organizatoin, please contact us.

Questions Show Ministry Mindset

When you ask questions, every response becomes an opportunity to minister to your Lead. If you represent a ministry, you’ll discover new ways to help and support your Leads and Clients by asking a few well-placed questions.

In essence, questions open the opportunity for you and your ministry to amplify your impact.


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