In Part I, I covered the conversation-opener recommended by Linda Gardner in her RMA article, Understanding your Middle-Market Customer. Here are the questions she suggests you ask to understand the business:
- What are the future growth opportunities in the <industry type> industry?
- What strategy has <company name> chosen to compete in this industry?
- What is your market position?
- What is the effect of growing competition on your business?
- What kind of current and future resources are necessary to succeed?
- What is the company’s historical and projected financial performance?
What I find interesting about these questions, from a business owner’s perspective, is that they are helpful questions for me to revisit from time to time. To have the banker help me do it positions the banker as a financial adviser, not a sales person.
Which would you rather be perceived as? If it is the financial adviser, then questions and listening will always proceed ‘selling’.
And if you listen carefully, I’ll tell you about my industry, about where I think my business is now and where it is going.
Next post…questions to help you understand the business owner.