After working with businesses of all shapes and sizes, I have come to the conclusion that there are five over-arching questions that can dictate whether your business will be successful or not. If an owner can clearly articulate the answer to these five questions, there is a reasonably good chance that they will be successful. Consequently, I have named these the “five success questions”. Every business owner should be able to answer these. And while most claim they can, I find that most are inconsistent in their answers.
Moreover, I find that while an owner might have crystal-clear clarity on these five answers. Their actions, or the actions of their staff, demonstrate a lack of consistency. Therefore, I believe these are fundamental to the success of any business. What are these five success questions? They are actually pretty simple:
- WHO are my IDEAL CUSTOMERS?
- WHY do they CARE about YOU?
- WHAT PRODUCT or SERVICE can SATISFY them?
- WHERE do you CONNECT with them?
- HOW do you CONVERT them to CUSTOMERS?
Let’s explore each of the five success questions in detail.
WHO are my IDEAL CUSTOMERS?
There’s an old joke with startup businesses about ideal customers. “Anyone with a pulse and a paycheck”. And while many startups have to begin this way, it is not the way to build a business for long-term success.
How do you go about identifying an ideal customer? Furthermore, what criteria is used to eliminate prospects?
These are many important questions for a business owner to consider. A business owner needs to consider several things. What is their expertise? What is their sphere of influence? Are their geographic restrictions? Are their legal or regulatory restrictions? I work with my clients on a Venn diagram do identify their ideal clients. Answering a series of questions like these will help narrow the audience down to a reasonable focus.
Once a narrowly defined ideal customer is identified, you can create a strategy for going after that market. You can use a focus a strategy with the precision of a laser beam instead of shooting from your hip with a shotgun approach.
WHY do they CARE about YOU?
This is hard to admit, and I’ve shared it before in previous posts. But most customers really don’t care about you. They don’t care about your story, your purpose or your mission. But, if they do, you have a much greater chance of selling to them.
So how do you make sure a customer cares about you? Quite simply, you have to provide them with something they care about.
All too often, I see business owners (especially inventors and entrepreneurs), who are providing a product or service that only THEY care about. The trick is not to produce something you care about. But to produce something the customer cares about and desires.
Therefore, I work with my clients to help them identify their customer core cares. Once they have a solid understanding of this, they can adapt their product and/or services to meet the need.
WHAT PRODUCT or SERVICE can SATISFY them?
So, you have identified what your customer cares about. That’s FANTASTIC. You are a leg up on your competition now. But here comes the hard part. Forget what you think they need. Focus on what THEY think they need. Adapt your product or service in a way that satisfies their need.
Let’s face it, the customer is the person with the checkbook. If you have something they want, and they can afford, they will most likely buy from you. Is it easier to sell someone something they want, or to sell them something that you have to convince them they want?
What are the objections to this? Most often, the entrepreneur or inventor feels like they are being inauthentic. But here is the trick. Sell them what they want now, and over time, if you are correct, you will sell them what you want. For example, if you have a software product, perhaps you have to sell a version that does not have all the bells and whistles that you believe are critical. Sell them the version they want. Over time, they will likely add the functionality that you believe is necessary. But if you force them to buy everything now, you end up selling them nothing.
WHERE do you CONNECT with them?
This is a question that has evolved so much in the last two decades. It used to be products were sold locally, regionally or nationally. Your go-to-market strategy was directly related to how you wanted to sell your product. With the advent of modern technology, we can no longer assume this to be the case. We have online businesses, brick & mortar businesses, service businesses, and much more.
In my business, I conduct most of my work in person. But I don’t have to. I have clients throughout the US that I work with via online tools like video conferencing and file sharing. No longer do we have to sit across the table from someone. This certainlyi varies by industry, type of product and sometimes regulatory concerns.
A busienss owner has to figure out the BEST way to connect with their potential customers. Whether that’s online, through personal networking, or via traditional print and TV advertisements, an owner must figure out what works for their particular market. Finding where the customer hangs out, and meeting them there, is the key to success.
HOW do you CONVERT them to CUSTOMERS?
Prospect conversion is the most critical part of the sales process. Everything you do up until then is moot if you don’t convert them into customers. Understanding the appropriate way to convert them is critical to success.
To do this you must understand their most common objections, determine what closing techniques work best for your industry, and pick up on subtle signals and behavioral styles of the prospect so you can adjust your strategy to accommodate them.
I once worked with a business owner that sold every prospect the exact same way. He was almost like a field general in constant attack mode. It worked with a few but failed with most. He did not understand the subtle idea of adjusting your style to meet the customer where they are. This is critical for the successful conversion of a high number of prospects.
I work with clients on these five success questions (and many more). In particular, I have a group training program called the “Entrepreneurial Growth Program” or “eGrowth” for short. This program is an exciting offering for small businesses whether just starting out or several years down the road. If you are interested in learning more, watch this video. This program is offered in person and virtually.
Contact me today if you’d like to find out more.