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The “5 Whys” Method

Oftentimes, when a prospective client isnt sure whether to hire you, its because you havent zeroed in on the REAL problem or challenge that the prospective client would be willing to invest into solving.

So I recommend the “5 Whys” method, which gained acclaim as a powerful approach used at Toyota in Japan during its growth in the 1970s.
This method will help you (and your client) get to the heart of their problem, which forms the basis for working together.

Heres how it works: typically during an initial consultation, you’re listening for the problem or challenge a client would like help with.
Instead of stopping at the superficial level, keep going deeper by asking “why?” (what caused the problem?) 5 times.

Heres an example. Lets suppose you’re a life coach talking with a potential client.

Q: Hello, what motivated you to see me today?

Potential Client: I want to stop smoking.

Q: Why do you want to stop smoking, why today?

A: Well, I’m concerned about my health.

Q: True, its smoking impacts your health, but why today, what made you decide to take action about health today?

A: Well, I was playing with my kids, and I got winded, because I have so much tar in my lungs.

Q: Well yes, not very good, what about that bothers you?

You keep going, and you find that the potential client is concerned about how they are showing up as a role model to their kids.
They are concerned about whether they are an adequate paren’t.

THIS is likely the area where they would find value in working with you.

In sum: The 5 Whys approach is an easy and often-effective tool getting to the root of a clients problem
Because it is so simple, it can be applied quickly to most any problem.
BTW, this also works for you to know why it is you really want something in your life or in your business.

Click here to download an explanation of The 5 Ways Method
Give it a try, and let me know what you think in the comments below.


  1. Succinctly explained, Bill! The “5 -whys” (or any number of “whys”) should be standard procedure in any conversation. I often hesitate, though, not wanting to appear nosey or intrusive. But the truth is, people like to talk about themselves and their businesses, and “why” gives them permission to talk. Thanks for sharing.

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