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Top Idea Extraction Questions

Here’s my basic process for doing an Idea Extraction call. 


The following was formulated over a 3 months period where I was making idea extraction calls at least 2 hours a day for 4 days a week. While it’s by now means perfect, it’s something that I became quite comfortable with. Towards the end, I was able to get through to 7 out of 10 business owners.

Steps before making a cold call - 

1. At least a day or two, send email to cold call group. Usually, I have tried emailing a group before I start calling. I do this, because if the gatekeeper asks why I am calling, I can say it’s in reference to an email I sent on such and such day. Before, I had a 1 in 10 chance of getting past the gatekeeper, now, I rarely get stopped by the gatekeeper.

2. Go to person in my call list - make sure I know First name, and last name.

3. Pull up company website - check the quality, know loosely where the company is from, and GUESS rough income based on the website. You can usually tell this within 1-2 minutes, at least well enough to know the basic facts.

4. Take a few deep breaths - say to myself, OK - what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen here? They’re going to say no? They’re going to be annoyed? You’ll live, and it won’t be the first time.

5. Get my Call Record option ready to go in case the call gets good. Grab a calculator and have it ready in case I need to do some price anchoring on the fly —

6. Make call - have script ready and already memorized. 

7. Gatekeeper - Hi, may I help you? 

     You - “Yes, John Smith please, it’s George Wardman (I use the more formal version of my name, it sounds more business like - Make it sound serious - not friendly - just deep voice, serious, no messing around. When I used to try and chit chat with the gatekeeper I almost always got shut down. Get by this person as fast as you can - IF they ask why - say again - “Tell him it’s about an email I sent to him two days ago” - be vague, 90% of the time, you’ll get put through.

8. Once the person you want answers - and you start talking do NOT stop for any reason. You must say what it is that you want, as fast and as short as you can to get them talking - Forget being friendly in this first part - it’s all about getting them to answer that first question.

Have some sort of script ready in your head.

     Script - “Hi, my name is [your name] - and I’ve been spending the last 2 months calling people from your industry making a study (don’t use the word survey - it’s going to put people off right away because it sounds like a waste of time)  on how to make the [industry name ] run smoother, and cut out inefficiencies. I’ve spent a lot of time on this study, and I’ve found some really good information, if you’ll take the time to answer a few questions, I’d be happy to let you have this information. I’d like to set up a time to ask you a few questions. ” (don’t ask if it’s OK - don’t ask when would be good - leave it at that)

70-80% of the time, the answer is - “What are the questions?” — Boom, you’re inside.

Once inside, I would go through the following list of questions, and always keep prodding on a painful area with follow up questions like - Why is that? Tell me more about that, why again. Do not move on until you believe you’ve found the real root of a problem.

Level 1     Intro Questions

     Tell me a little about your business?

     What is the most critical job in your business?

     Could you walk me through your day?

     What is the first [second, third, etc] thing you do in the morning?

     How you create value for your customers?

     What is your most challenging aspect of generating revenue or creating value?

     What would help you generate more revenue or create value for your customers?

     What’s the most frustrating part of your business?

     What software do you wish existed but you can’t seem to find it?

     “If you had unlimited resources, what would you develop to make your day more productive?

Getting Deeper 

     Think about the last couple of days at work, what have been your biggest struggles lately?

What manual tasks in your daily routine would you like to automate?

     Do you have any ideas on what would make your job easier?

     Are there any features missing in your current software that you wish existed?

     What is the most expensive problem in your business? Do you think this could be automated?

     Are there any areas in your business where duplicate data entry exists?

     What is something you know your customers want from you but you have trouble providing?

     Is there anything you want to do with your mobile phone that you can’t right now?

     Whats a problem you’ve tried to solve in the past but it didn’t work out?

     How much time do you spend emailing on a given day?