Without input from the people you want to serve, your business is doomed before it even begins. You can see evidence of this: many would-be entrepreneurs try to package what worked for them and sell it. It looks great on the outside, but once their customers try to implement it, they don’t have the same success. Why is this? Because the situations, skillsets, and circumstances are different.
We all need to ask more questions. More importantly, we need to ask the RIGHT questions and then listen, truly listen, to the answers. It’s easy to get carried away with excitement and to do most of the talking, but that keeps you from hearing what your audience wants and needs. Follow the ‘ask, listen, serve’ mantra.
Asking questions helps you understand.
If you’ve ever taken a copywriting course, you’ve learned that you need to join the conversation in your audience’s heads. What this means is you know what they’re thinking about, and you’re able to use the same words and phrases they are using when they think about it. And you can’t do any of this if you didn’t take the time to listen to them in the first place.
Surveys are one way to ask your audience questions. You’ll want to keep it short and focused, and you might also want to TEST your questions. Have a few trusted people in your inner circle read over them and give you feedback. That way you can ask more intelligent questions and avoid misunderstandings. This is also an evolving process. If it’s not working, you can change the survey!
Talking face to face.
Surveys are useful, but nothing replaces talking to someone face to face, or even over the phone. You have access to rreal-timeclarification, thought process, motivations. Essentially, you’re learning not just what the problem is, but why it’s a problem, how they see it, and what they’ve already tried to do to fix it. A single conversation isn’t enough. Remember how everyone’s circumstances are different? Two people might have the same problem for different reasons, and you’d never know it unless you asked.
How to operationalize the process.
Think of the 3-5 things you deliver to people. Once you’ve figured those out, create an opening question for each. Avoid making a list of questions; instead, have an idea of the deeper things you want to learn. The opener starts the exploratory conversation, and the questions you ask are both relevant to the conversation and also steer it toward the things you know you want to learn. You might have ideas for other questions, like the followup or closing question, but ultimately, every person is different. Your questions should follow the 3-5 things you can deliver, but it shouldn’t be a rote list.
You aren’t convincing; you’re finding a fit.
Not everyone you talk to will want what you’re offering, nor will you want to serve everyone you talk to. Part of asking questions is to find a mutual fit, so asking the right questions is paramount. Can you relate to them? Do their wants and needs sound like something you can deliver? You’ll never know unless you ask.
Figure out what your 3 to 5 things are and come up with an opening question for each. Then come up with a follow-up question. Then go out and have 2 conversations a day for the next few weeks. Most importantly, LISTEN.
When you meet someone who you’d like to have as a client- whether it’s an actual sales conversation or just a handshake, what you do AFTER is the most important factor in whether or not you’ll end up working with them. Download this 4-step follow-up method to make sure you never miss an opportunity.