Close The Sale With The Socratic Approach

Having a different sort of spirit when pitching to prospective clients can prove to be the difference for your creative brand and business. 

What do I mean by “a different sort of spirit?” exactly? It’s a different approach to the sales call than most creatives take. It’s a Socratic rather than didactic approach.

Here’s the scenario: A prospective client inquires about your services. They need a website, an illustration, a logo. They want to know if you’re the right person to create it for them.

You can take the didactic approach which is to tell them what you do, why they should work with you. You describe your services and how you work. You look at what they currently have and inform them what they need. You demonstrate you have the answers to all their questions.

The prospect leaves the call by saying they’ll think about it, or they’re looking at a number of creatives and will get back to you. You don’t hear from them again.

It’s easy to tell someone the answer. But people are resistant to being told. They don’t like being directed. They don’t want to feel pushed or demeaned. It’s human nature to back off from what appears to be a threat or high risk. In a didactic approach we can often be perceived as a threat. But that’s the approach most of us take when talking with prospects.

The better approach is the Socratic method. 

What is Socratic selling?

The Socratic approach is a discovery method in which you lead your prospect to the answer you want. It’s not manipulative. It engages the prospect and can make them more open to working with you.


It’s easy to tell something the answer. But as I said up top, people are naturally resistant to being told.


So instead of telling the prospect what they need, ask question that lead them to the answer for themselves.

Don’t give advice. Guide them to the answer through a series of leading questions that build on each other and climax at the hoped for outcome.



In a didactic approach you’re prescribing before you have diagnosed the problem. Most people will prescribe a solution expecting the prospect to accept before they’re convinced their problems are understood.

It’s our job as creatives to probe for the problem, identify and define it correctly. If we don’t identify the problem we can’t solve it.

Ask the client questions:

So what’s the reason for this conversation? How can I help you?

Okay, so you need a new widget. What’s the reason why you need a new widget? What about your current widget isn’t working for you? 

What do you want to accomplish? What do you want the new widget to do for you?

How do you know that a new widget is what you need? Have you considered a doohicky instead? 

What would happen if you do nothing? 

So is that how you will determine if the new widget is successful? 

What is the value of a new widget to you?

What would you pay to have that widget developed? What’s it worth to you?

So in asking pointed questions you lead the prospect closer and closer to the answer. You likely already know what that is, or maybe you don’t. But by asking a series of strategic q2uestion, you can reel the prospect in to where they are certain you’re the right creative for the job.

The Socratic methos helps them identigfy the real problem and allows you to showcase the best answer. You’re helping them discover the answer for themselves. 


The trick is knowing that the answer already exists, and it usually exists in the question you ask. You’re making an educated guess.


The questions allow you to diagnose and the n to prescribe. 

When you give them the answer, you’re selling. When they discover the answer, you’re closing the sale.