10 Factfinding Tips

If you’re in the business of factfinding or exploring the needs of your customer before you give them advice or a recommendation, here are ten quick tips to use as an MOT or checkup:

  1. Focus on your non-verbals – your eye contact needs to be strong or appropriate for the customer, open body, gestures when talking. Use your head when listening – tilt your head to show interest, raise your eyebrows to signify curiosity.
  2. Freewheel first. Ignore your scripted questions on your factfind to start with. Just ask a solid open question around the topic you want to discuss and listen. Freewheel and see where the conversation goes.
  3. Remember your verbal “nods” to encourage the customer to carry on talking. “Uh hur”, “I see”, “interesting”, “go on.”
  4. Pre-frame your questions. Particularly if it’s rather sensitive. “May I ask…”, “Out of curiosity”, “It would help me to know…”
  5. MAP-it out. When the customer is answering a really good question, and you think there’s more, use the MAP discipline. Move away from thinking about your next question or the solution to what they are saying; clear your head. Appreciate them entirely by focussing on just them. Playback what they just told you and add some areas you perceived or sensed. You can carry on MAP’ing customers for a long time, and it works too.
  6. Soften your questioning with your voice tone. Be aware of your voice tone when talking. When asking questions, your tone should lift slightly to indicate a question.
  7. WAIT – ask yourself – why am I talking – if you think you are doing this too much.
  8. Remove physical barriers: tables, computer screens, books, noise.
  9. Ask short, open, curious questions and one at a time; refrain from machine-gunning your customer with multiple questions strung together.
  10. Finally, some poetry. Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men. “They taught him all he knew. Their names were what, why, when; how, where, and who”. Use these all the time.