Are You Afraid that Stakeholders Will Think You Are a Dummy if You Ask Too Many Questions?

If you want stakeholders to buy in to your procurement process you may need to ask some “dumb” questions.

Why would I recommend this approach?

Because it works.

Think about the new products and services that have changed our lives in the last 10 years?

Uber was founded in 2009. This service is now impacting new drivers. They are not that excited about learning to drive or buy a car.

Amazon Prime was started in 2005 but really took off in the last 5 years. Now 2-day delivery is expected. Amazon recently offered employees a $10,000 bonus if they would quit and become drivers so they could make Prime the 1-day delivery service.

Online meeting services have changed the way business is conducted. Why would you fly to Denver to make a sales presentation when the participants are scattered across the US or the world?

New materials that are stronger than steel and transparent could dramatically change military and construction applications.

If you are a procurement professional, it is certain that you will be asked to source products or services that haven’t existed previously.

I believe that your success is based on understanding the most important features of new materials, products and services.

Here is where the ‘dummy” strategy will help you.

I have learned how to do this successfully in my current role. In the last month I have spoken with prospective clients in property management, media, energy, insurance, private schools, home building, consulting and manufacturing.

These companies contacted me about sourcing, workflow and contract management tools.

I have significant business experience, but I can’t possibly be an expert with each tool in every industry.

When you are faced with a challenging request, my recommendation is to swallow any pride you have.

Then ask enough questions so you can complete an outstanding job for the stakeholder making the request.

Here are some of the questions I ask to get the information I believe I need:

  • Would it be ok if we spend the next 20 minutes going over your request, so I feel confident I understand it?
  • What else can you tell me more about (fill in the blank)?
  • Could you help me out, I don’t know if I understand what you just shared, could you go over it one more time?
  • Is there anything I should have asked and didn’t?
  • I think I understand, but could you go over it again so I can be sure?
  • Let me repeat what I think you explained and then you can help me out if I missed something, is that ok?

Questions like these allow your stakeholder to give you the information you need to be comfortable.

Even if I am 95% confident that I understand their needs, I still ask questions like these.

Is there any downside?


At a minimum you will know that you did understand their needs. The best thing would be uncovering something you missed.

Stakeholders need your help and by asking questions you are showing them that you want to meet their requirements. This is a way to build trust between you and them.

Most people are eager to talk about their needs. Some might get impatient. Ask them more questions because impatient people will be unhappy if something goes wrong. Plus, they will look for a scapegoat to blame and you don’t want it to be you.

Make sure you ask all your questions sincerely. Fakes are easy to spot.

Once you feel comfortable, summarize it for the stakeholder.

Once they agree, you will both be on the same page.

Isn’t that the best place to be?

Ask better questions, make changes and 2019 will be your best year ever.

Action Step: If you are uncertain where to start the process of change, a procurement professional like myself can provide guidance and expertise to help your organization achieve the results you want.

If you want to go explore this topic in greater detail, please contact me. I invite you to request 30-minute discovery conversation. In my experience the next step will be apparent at the end of the call. I never assume that what I have to offer will be right for everyone, so don’t expect a sales pitch. You can reach me at 973-936-9672.

If you would like to know more ways to reduce costs without changing the way you do business, simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

You Won’t Drift to Success©

Commit to taking the next step.

Until Next Time, I Wish You Great Success in Your Business and in Your Life

Mike Jeffries