Customers, Freelance life, Selling

The “Childish” Sales Technique Your Clients Will Actually Thank You For Using

Boy with a question mark

What is that for?


How did I get here?

When is it my birthday?

Are we there yet?

Children have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge (or maybe just for answers).

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an interrogation from a child, you’ll know the feeling.

Have. To. Get. Away.

Because who actually does know the answer to, “Why are bumblebees?”

Maybe that’s why we tend to shy away from asking questions as adults. Now it’s all about us. We’re on ‘send’ not ‘receive’.

We love talking about ourselves. Just look at Facebook if you don’t believe me.

But also look at the number of sites offering advice on how to network, pick up men/women or overcome shyness.

What’s the one piece of advice they all offer?

Yes. Ask questions.

Because then, it’s the other person doing the talking. Which they love.

Seven questions to ask your clients

What, then, do we ask our clients?

Here are a handful of suggestions. They have all worked for me. And when I say, worked, I mean, made me money, either directly or indirectly.

Question #1 How does that sound to you?

I ask this after I have quoted a fee for a copywriting project. I like to give people a rough idea on the phone, so I can gauge their reaction.

If they sound doubtful, I have an opportunity to probe a little further. (Not, incidentally, to immediately lower my price.)

Question #2 So, would you like to go ahead?

Assuming they are still talking to me, this is the killer question. It’s called, “Asking for the order”. If you don’t do it, you won’t get the job.

Again, in conversation, it gives you another chance to discover whether your client has any remaining reservations about hiring you. Which you can deal with there and then.

If they express doubts about something, you can use this next question.

Question #3 If I could show you that I could do that [whatever [that] is], would you be happy to go ahead?

Also known as a trial close, this question puts your client on the spot. They have raised an objection; you have answered it.

This will either result in a firm decision (hopefully, yes) or flush out further objections. See how useful this technique is?

Question #4 What would success look like to you?

This is a very open-ended question, for which I have to thank Charles Kingsmill, a strategy coach and friend of mine.

It gives the client some space to use their imagination. If you are face-to-face, take a moment to observe them.

They will probably look up as they visualise a future where things have worked out for the best. It also gives you a major clue as to what they want from you.

Question #5 If we took away all but one of your product’s features, and your customers would still be prepared to buy it, what would that one feature be?

This is one of mine. I have asked it of many magazine editors, in particular. They seem to like it. The most common response is, “[pause]…That’s a very good question.”

They then come up with the killer point they believe sells their product. Useful for you.

Question #6 When do you need it?

Should be obvious this one. Establishing the deadline at the outset avoids headaches later on.

Plus, if your client has, shall we say, unrealistic expectations, you can talk to them/negotiate a longer lead-time.

Question #7 What else can I help you with?

Remember to ask this because it paves the way for further work and starts to build a relationship.

Don’t assume the client has just one copywriting need. It’s never true. Asking this question also shows them that you are interested in helping them again and taking an interest in their business. (Which you are, of course.)

Why do clients like you to use this “childish” technique?

Some of these questions – and others you can dream up – may feel a little difficult to ask at first. But here’s the thing.

Unless you ask them, only negative things will happen.

Your client won’t get to work with you – the best person for the job.

They won’t achieve the results they want.

You won’t land the gig.

You won’t write the best copy you’re capable of writing.

You’ll miss their deadline.

You won’t get any repeat business.

So start acting like a little kid again.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

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