Growing a business takes a lot of work. We all hope for the day our business becomes viral and people flock to us like moths to a flame, but in reality, growing a business takes a bit of time. It takes a foundational understanding of what we do, who we do it for and how to tell them about it.
Understand what you sell in business
I know a lot of business owners think they know what they sell. I am always surprised to see that they really don’t know what they are selling.
Let’s say you sell new cars. There are thousands of different cars to choose from, so how do you stand out? You stand out by understanding what you are selling. If you have a minivan, you may be selling safety and security. If you have a sports car, you may be selling power and prestige.
Here’s a quick exercise. Take your product or service and define how your customer’s life is different after they use your product. Then, ask “Why?” Do that five levels deep. Once you do that, you will truly understand what you are really selling.
For example, let’s say you sell minivans. Your customers have a car that fits all of their family together. Why? Because having enough room is important. Why? So the kids don’t fight. Why? So they have a more peaceful ride. Why? So the parents can concentrate on the road. Why? Because family is important and we want them to be safe.
If you follow those five levels you will see that family is important to people who buy minivans. You are selling the idea of family, unity, peace and security. You are not just selling a minivan.
Understand who you do business for
Once we have nailed down exactly what it is that we are selling, we must understand who needs it most. Our customers are the people who are going to purchase and if you get this one wrong, we will always have a struggling business.
First thing we must get right is how they think and talk. Each group of customers speaks a different language. They may all speak English, but what they say is different.
A twenty something new mother is going to use different vernacular than a forty something female executive. They are the same general persona, but they have widely different circles of influence, habits and values. What is important to one may not be as important to both of them.
It is important that we really nail down our ‘best type’ of customer. If we try to get everyone into our business, we will find ourselves doing a lot of work and getting minimal results.
Think about fishing. Depending on what type of fish you want, you need the right type waters (lake, river, ect.), the right bait, the right hooks, the right equipment to get where they are, and the right timing.
The more we understand our ideal customer, the better we can talk to them and help them with the business that we have.
Here’s a quick exercise. Write down 10 things your ideal customer values. Write down 10 habits they may have. Where do they shop? What do they drive? Where do they spend leisure time? Etc. Once you nail down those 20 items. Write a ‘day in the life of’ you ideal customer. What does their life look like before they use your business and what will it look like after they use your business?
Understand how to tell customers about your business
Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold. People love getting a good deal and finding things that help them with problems they have in everyday life. They love businesses that can speak their language and if they can relate to your business, they will be a loyal customer for life.
I can’t express this hard enough. If we want our customers to buy from us, they must like us. They must feel like we understand them and are there to help them. No longer are we in the days of yelling the loudest to get the most attention, we are in the days of whispering in the ears of good friends and engaging them on a personal level.
You have a message about how you can help your customers. They want to know how you can help them. Put together the two ideas from above. Do they fit? If not, fix the one that makes the most sense. Remember, people love to buy things that help their lives and solve pain points they feel, but they only listen to you if they feel like you are talking directly to them.
Putting it all together
Here is a real life example. I was talking to an insurance sales man. Their motto of their company was “for all your insurance needs from A to Z” (slightly altered to protect the company). I asked what they did different that all the other companies that say they have all kinds of insurance.
He said, “Well, we are Christian and we pray for our people. We have all the insurance they need and can probably get them a better rate than they are currently getting.”
I asked, “Many insurance agents offer all types of insurance and a lot of them say they can save you money. What are you doing differently? Are your customers Christian?”
He said, “Why, yes, most of them are. I don’t guess I ever realized that.”
I suggested, “Then why don’t you emphasize your Christianity? I would put our some ads, geared at Christians that said, ‘When was the last time your insurance agent prayed for you?’ When people know you are praying for them, they realize that you really care for them and that is different than other insurance agents.”
He said he had never thought of that and would have to do some work to see if he could get more people.
See, he wasn’t just selling insurance, there are thousands of people doing that. He was selling a company that prayed for you. In essence, he was selling insurance agents who care about you and your needs so much they will take time to pray for you.
Being in business as a Christian may not mean you only have Christian customers, but some do. You must identify your ideal customer and how you can help them. Then, and only then, will you be ready to tell them what you have and how you can help them.
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