This article offers 5 ideas on how to ask better questions for Competitive Intelligence. One of the main reasons why questions are crucial to Competitive Intelligence is that they show us what we don't know.
When we ask a great question that requires some thought, it immediately isolates a knowledge gap. Now, it is easy to think what's all the fuss about a question. You ask them all day, and I tend to get an answer. But are they the correct answers? Are they answers to make you go away happy? Are the answers that you learn anything from?
Many people are afraid of asking too many questions because they feel uncomfortable. They don't want to show people they don't know something. Now others find the whole question answering situation interesting and stimulating. Eager to find the answer and create more knowledge of the subject.
We are conditioned at school to try and be the first to put our hand up when a teacher asks a question. Hands go up without really thinking. In business board rooms, questions are asked, and to not feel stupid, people rush to get the answer. To fill the silence when everyone is looking at you. You're the FD, so you must know that figure. Or the Marketing Director, so you know all about that customer segment. You see it all the time. When someone asks a question, there's suddenly a race to fill the silence with noise. A rush to find the answer. With lots of erring umms and words to give us thinking time.
But answering the question too quickly reduces the chances of revealing alternative views. And loses any idea of deep creative insight. The insight that tends to change things for the better. The best way to achieve a well thought out insightful answer is to ask a better question. Here are 5 thoughts on how to ask better questions.
1. Why is that?
Simon Sinek has made a career out of telling us to use why questions. Whole books and TED talks on the power of using well thought out "why" questions. 'Why' questions are compelling because the answer needs a well thought out response. Or a "dunno" A dunno answer cuts to the chase, and they should be encouraged if you don't know the answer. Not knowing the answer gives you a focus and a target in your research. Another why question after the answer helps us dig deeper is "why is that?" Not to reprimand a non-answer but to pull out more information.
2. So what?
A great way of developing the "why" question is to back it up with a "So what?" An answer to a question or a statement is greeted with a "So what?" Throughout the questioning, "so what's" are thrown into the conversation like an insight grenade. Thoughts go off at different angles, and it forces you to get out of the way of the usual way you think.
3. Why not?
Simple question but could reveal incredibility insightful imaginative answers. Why not questions must allow you to think without any barriers getting in the way.
4. Question structure
So it's not just a case of creating thoughtful questions to catch all about a competitor or your market. You have to guide the decision-maker to take action. What do we mean? Well, rather than asking what're our competitor's main strengths? Ask what can we do about our competitor's strengths? Subtle changes in the question transform a question into a decision focused one.
Here are some questions to answer:
Who's your competition for your offering you are trying to attract customers to?
What if you changed your offering and targeted a different group of customers? A group that could be easier to sell to?
Why do prospects buy from your competitors? What are the perceived advantages that you don't offer?
What's so special about your competitor's features and benefits?
How are you superior to your competitors? What do you offer that they unable to? Do they realise this? How can you take advantage of this within your marketing and sales?
Where is your competitor's vulnerability? How can you exploit this to take advantage?
Can we change our marketing strategy to achieve dominance in that sector?
5. What are we not going to do?
These styles of questions are also perfect for deciding on things you are not going to do. With the world-changing so quickly, it's easy to be doing too much. A good strategy is formed by asking good questions, including questions that focus on what we will not do. We try to keep up with technology, trends, causes. Combined with the can-do attitude encouraged by motivational gurus, we can forget this question. We don't often ask what we shouldn't be doing. Take time on your journey to stop and determine where you are, where you want to be and where you don't want to be.
5 ideas on how to ask better questions for Competitive Intelligence
This article offered 5 ideas on how to ask better questions for Competitive Intelligence. One of the main reasons why questions are crucial to Competitive Intelligence is that shows us what we don't know. Questions assist you in limiting activities that drive your brand forward. Answering these sort of questions can result in more productive thought and results.
About Octopus Intelligence
Octopus is a Competitive Intelligence and Strategy consulting firm focused on creating certainty, insight, competitive advantage and significant growth for clients operating in disruptive and traditional sectors.
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