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Great questions to ask from the supplier perspective

By: BJ Strote, AV Chicago | Aug 7, 2019

Strote_BJSuppliers in the event production world take great pride in having the answers to the questions that come their way. After all, providing solutions is a significant part of demonstrating their service expertise to planners and producers. The focus of a great supplier, however, is not in addressing a specific set of questions but understanding that questions reveal critical information about the question-asker — information that is actually more important than the answer to the question itself. For example:

• “How much labor do I actually need?” might be asked in attempt to answer the question, “Am I getting ripped off?”

• “Why do you charge for every piece of gear in every room for each day of the event?” may actually be asking, “Can you deliver what I need inside my budget?”

• “Why is your quote so much higher/lower than this other company?” could actually be asking, “Can I trust you?”

The best suppliers dig deeper into the questions they are asked to find what those questions actually reveal. Beyond that, they pride themselves on their own ability to ask great questions.

“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” In this quote, W. Edwards Deming cuts to the heart of the issue: the art of asking questions brings fullness of discovery. It is in this discovery that suppliers find the depth of value they can bring to their trusted partners. AV suppliers may often be seen as professional “question-answerers” but their greatest value comes in asking the right questions.

Here are a few great questions that reveal a desire to find depth through discovery:

• “How can we make life easier for you through our working relationship?” clarifies pain points to eliminate, hot buttons to avoid, expectations to prioritize, etc.

• “What does success look like at the end of this event (to you? to your company stakeholders? to your attendees?)” These questions pinpoint client expectations and keeps the critical deliverables at the forefront from the very beginning of the event experience.

• “For this project, how would you list these event elements in hierarchy of importance, from most to least? (total event budget, responsiveness onsite, responsiveness in pre-planning, production quality).” This question helps you find out what needs to be prioritized through the planning and event experience. Each is obviously important, but the answers reveal what’s most important to a specific planner.

Suppliers undoubtedly exist to provide answers to clients. Great suppliers understand the value beneath the questions they are asked, and they take great pride in crafting excellent questions.

About the Author: Strote is the Director of Sales for AV Chicago. He has served in various event production roles with notable companies like IMS and Encore, representing both outside AV and the in-house perspective. He also spent years as an executive producer, coming alongside clients to exceed their event expectations.



BJ Strote, AV Chicago
AV Chicago

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