How do you decide to do business with someone ? Whatever criteria it is, do you think other people use the same parameters you use? I can guarantee that they don’t.
Your customer decides whether or not to trade her money for your product or service based on her needs. It’s obivious that your job is to figure out what those needs are if you want to have a successful small business. But here is the key – that doesn’t mean you need to cater to every person who might be your customer. Some people’s needs are not a good fit for you. Likewise, you are not a good fit for everyone.
When I first started my business I made the mistake of trying to get everyone to be my client. Big mistake. I tried to become an expert in the needs and wants of very different individuals. I found out that I just couldn’t do it. I learned the hard way that it’s far better to focus on the needs of retirees, highly paid employees and self-employed people. Those were the people I focused my business around and it was a good move.
I could really drill down and become an expert for them. It also saved me time and helped me market my company. I became more valuable to the people I wanted to do business with as a result. Win-win.
So your first task as a small business owner is to decide who you want to do business with and why. And here’s a hint – don’t pick a group of people just because you think they are the most lucrative clients. Choose your client groups based on people you like ,understand and want to serve. Help people you enjoy helping. That will give you a huge leg up on your competition.
Once you decide who you want to business with, you need to find out what they need and want. Don’t assume that you know. Prepare 10 to 15 questions and invite them out for coffee. Learn about these people by interviewing them. Go through your list and listen. These aren’t sales meetings – they are educational meetings and these people are doing you a favor so honor that.
Lets say you own a Toyota auto repair shop. You like working with families and it’s important to you to keep those wheels rolling so those families can function. Here are some questions you might ask some customers:
- What do you like about your current repair provider?
- What would you change?
- What has been your best experience?
- What has been your worst experience?
- If you talk with friends about problems with auto repair, what concerns do they have?
- What would need to happen for you to be completely satisfied?
- How do the problems with auto repair impact you? What does this keep you from having or experiencing?
- Does it impact any other part of your life or relationships with other people?
- Why is this important to you?
- What would your life look like if you didn’t have this problem?
- Who else should I talk to learn more?
These are all open-ended questions by design. Tweak them so they work for your small business. Just remember that the best way to get anything out of these meetings is to listen. Don’t try to convince someone how wonderful you are.
At the end of the day, people decide to do business with you or not based on three major questions?
- Does this person understand my needs?
- Can this person solve my problems?
- Do I like and trust this person?
If you identify the right audience and learn about them by interviewing people, it will be easy for them to say “yes” to questions #1 and #2. And I have written about trust in other posts and I suggest you read one or two now.
If you comport yourself as a person others can trust, learn about them and are able to provide what they want most, your business will thrive. You’ll have more people who want to do business with you than you can handle.
How do you get people to decide to do business with you?