Every business leader I know would love to get inside the minds of potential customers.

While there are dozens of sophisticated tools and analytics solutions that have been created to better understand customers, getting inside the minds of potential customers doesn’t have to be complicated nor expensive. In fact, getting inside the minds of potential customers can be as easy as sitting across the table over a cup of coffee and asking a few questions.

The Importance of Asking the Right Questions

When it comes to asking questions, what you ask matters. Closed-ended questions tend to generate short responses and can even put potential customers on the defensive.

Open-ended questions, on the other hand, can change the entire course of a deal. You can use them to learn more about their needs, objectives, and pain points or to discover new details, build rapport, make them feel understood, and get them to think differently about their situations.

The insights you gather from open-ended questions can provide your marketing teams with information they can use to create content or campaigns for reaching new customers.

3 Open-Ended Questions to Get Inside the Minds of Potential Customers

So, what kind of open-ended questions work best when it comes to getting inside the minds of potential customers? Here are three I’ve seen work well for our clients:

  1. What are the top priorities of your business at the moment?

Rather than asking a question about their main business goals, this allows you to get a better understanding of all the various objectives they are being asked to meet. By asking about their priorities, you can get a better understanding of their larger business outcomes, budget priorities, and even internal challenges in a new way.

  1. How are you feeling about your current situation related to ______________?

“How are you doing?” will likely lead to a short, one-word response that’s likely a lie. “Good.” “Great!” “Doing well.”

Asking how they are feeling about the situation you’re looking to solve allows you to go a layer deeper. It helps you understand how they’re really feeling about the problems their facing. It helps you connect with the emotions they’re experiencing as they evaluate your products or services.

  1. What’s the biggest risk of you not making progress on this situation?

What’s at stake for potential customers if they don’t solve the problems you’re helping them consider? Knowing this helps you provide context and paint a picture of how your products can address the specific challenges. It helps you speak into the unique situations they’re in rather than using vague risks that aren’t really on their radars.

Questions are designed to start conversations with potential customers. Open-ended questions allow you to truly understand what’s going on inside the minds of your customers, even if they lead to tangential offshoots.

If you’ve been struggling to get inside the minds of your customers, reconsider the questions you’re asking. Make sure you’re also actively listening to the answers to help you create an emotional connection with prospects and become one of their trusted advisers.