So, you finally have that one-on-one appointment with a highly connected professional. With only 30-45 minutes to conduct an interview, what questions are you going to ask that will give you the most out of this opportunity? The information that you are looking for involves whether there is an opportunity to work together and the highest and best use of yours’ and the prospects time. Questions to Ask Yourself When I get the opportunity to meet with a possible client, I use specific interview questions to help guide myself to a decision about working with this person. At the same time I’m asking myself these important questions: Would I feel comfortable doing business with this person? Would I feel comfortable trusting this person with my clients? Does this person run their business align with my values? By taking this person on as a referral partner, will they create stress for me and my staff? Do we have an “essence match” or will we be having constant battles because our philosophies are so different? An essence match means we will meld together easily, rather than adding abrasion to each of our businesses. Does this person understand the importance of creating long term relationships with their clients? Does this person understand what a loyal partnership is all about? These questions guide me through the interview process and assist with the final determination about doing business with the prospective client. If even one of the questions is a no, then I would pass on working with this person or provide limited service. I’ve learned some valuable lessons in the past by taking on referral sources whose values do not line up with mine. I have it in my mind that I can change the person and coach them about the importance of establishing a loyal partnership and that I can become a major asset to their business. All I received was a grief and a major headache. Get to Know Them First Getting to know the person first is most important. I ask questions that make them talk about themselves. If I’ve done some “recon”, then my questions will be different or worded differently from those below, but this will give you some ideas. Tell me your five minute story. How did you get to Colorado? What do you do for fun? Do you have any hobbies? Are you associated with any groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis’s, or Chambers of Commerce? What charities and non-profits are you involved with? Before you got in your current profession, what did you do before? Don’t just jump in asking questions about their business right away. Get to know and like the person before you start asking probing questions about their business. Their answers to casual questions may be important clues as to how they conduct their businesses. Questions Related to Their Business Model Probing questions will give important clues on how the prospect does their business. The answers to these questions will determine how you proceed in the interview process. Where does the majority of your business leads come from? How do you generate leads and referrals? How do you stay in contact with your past clients? Do you have professional business relationships that refer you their clients? What is the biggest challenge you are experiencing in your business or industry currently? If you have decided through the interview process that you know and like the person, then you need to determine if you can trust the person enough to share your business model or “unique selling proposition”. If you feel that you can not, then nicely close the interview by thanking them for their time and move on. Final Thought You don’t need to accept every opportunity that comes in front of you. I was invited to meet with a gentleman who belongs to an organization that I am very involved in. The initial conversation went well as our children were going to the same high school and it was easy to connect. When it came to asking questions about his business model, creating loyal clients for life and working with professional referral sources, I knew that we would not work well together. I told the person, that we should remain friends but working together in the future was not in the best interest of either of us. Being honest upfront has kept our friendship strong and this person has referred many professionals in his profession to me that have worked out well. Be picky about the people you work with. Take pride in your business and only work with those that you like and trust. Building your business with quality referrals will improve and refine the essence of your business. Tom Ninness is Vice President/Regional Production Manager for Cherry Creek Mortgage in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the “The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success”, a powerful 90 day action plan for the sales professional. To learn more about The Journey and all what Summit Champions has to offer, go to: www.summitchampions.com or contact Tom at [email protected] Office: 303-840-0753.