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  • Alec Drake

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

Updated: Jan 19

My Sales Management article published in Radio Ink's March 2022 issue.


As managers, we do not target or reach any goal without a future vision in our mind, preparation, determination, and the first step towards achievement.


Our defined purpose sets expectations in performance and is our go-to fuel in any endeavor. What matters most is the questions we ask as managers in our search for the future vision of our company. Our purpose-driven decisions and business practices will create the outcome.


The wrong questions can lead you down a path of frustration, create a lack of commitment, and dampen results for both revenue and productivity. It takes honest questions and answers to reveal the suitable approach to your success.


What are you doing and why?

We are all familiar with the expression "no pain, no gain," which can be traced back to the early Greeks and was popularized in the early '80s by Jane Fonda in her workout videos. Asking the "right" questions can be painful, and a robotic "we have always done it this way" must be officially dead in this world of chaotic change. Habits are hard to break, and change is uncomfortable for everyone, so let's recognize that there will be difficulty upfront.


What are the "Right" Questions?

An offsite meeting of crucial decision-makers is a popular exercise to build a plan for the company. Usually, part of the agenda revolves around questions about the company's future and what can be better executed. Strategy and a method are essential at a high level yet can dissolve on the front lines of daily operations.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

To find a balance for any strategic questions, we can go back to the 1800s for a lesson. In the book "The Art of Action" by Stephen Bungay, we are introduced to General von Moltke of the Prussian army. Moltke introduced a new idea for communicating commands and the opportunity to make decisions and take responsibility through the ranks.


Officers under his command won more battles in the heat of the moment when plans could veer off target quickly. Moltke believed that high levels of alignment (what and why) and autonomy (how) are not two endpoints on a straight line; instead, he saw them in concert together. The intent is expressed in what to achieve and why. Action is concerned with steps taken to realize the intent.


The "right" questions start at ground level to support the effort necessary for alignment with the company. In the trenches is where you win or lose the battle. The origin of the questions will play a role in building a list.


How do We Collect the Right Questions?

To foster the "right" questions, you need an environment that promotes curiosity, the freedom to voice ideas, and incentives that reward contributions. We are not talking about a "suggestion box" in the break room or setting up a digital version to track submissions. We are talking about a culture that shows action over words, and most of all, "listens."


There is no shortcut to building a culture that "listens;" it takes daily steps of acknowledgment, exploring the merit of any feedback and follow-ups to show that we are paying attention as managers. Do not let fear of losing control take over the intent in changing the communication flow in the building. The structure has its place and will be supported if the company creates room to consider input from the staff.


The "Right" Questions on a List

Following are five to ponder as thought starters. The list may be very different when you begin your introspection on a path to better organizational performance. My list represents the alignment questions, and the autonomy questions will come from your teams as you listen for input.


1. What decisions in the last 12 months have failed?

2. What processes should be declared obsolete or in need of review?

3. What is the next significant revenue opportunity?

4. What risks are you managing for your staff, customers, and prospects?

5. What will keep you relevant and valuable in the next two years?


By asking the "right" questions in the future, you will change the alignment, the what, and the why, and be more productive when action is taken based on your intent.


The "right" questions originate with two-way communication throughout an organization. There are no guarantees that decisions will be "right" 100% of the time, what's important is that we make decisions together.

Thank you for reading this article, and please pass it along to your colleagues.
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About The Author:

Alec Drake openly shares revenue management strategies and sales improvement ideas in the "Sales Success Library" at Alecdrake.com. He is a regular contributor to Radio Ink Magazine, where he leverages four decades of experience to write about sales and management. Alec is the founder of The Radio Invigoration Project (T.R.I.P.), a support initiative for local radio sales and promotion staff.

Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and featured in any podcast.

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