One simple question to beat your competition, capture your market, and transform your business

One simple question to beat your competition, capture your market, and transform your business

What if you could read your customers’ minds? Could you beat your competition, capture your market, or transform your business? Of course you could.

Companies spend millions on market research to get an inside track but there’s a way to gain deep insight that doesn’t cost a penny.

Before you schedule another focus group, consider asking your customers this deceptively simple question the next time you see them:

What’s your biggest problem?

You’ll be amazed by the answers. You’ll hear details about their competitors, changes with their suppliers, an internal reorganization, or a company-wide cost cutting effort—you might even hear about their career or a personal issue.

All from a simple question: What’s you biggest problem?

How would you respond?

I’d be happy that someone cared and would share a thing or two about my biggest problems at the moment, even if I only knew them professionally. And so would you.

Oh! the Humanity

Why are we willing to share? It’s because we’re human; social beings with a need to share our lives with others.

What is business if not people? We’re full of hopes, dreams, worries, joys—the mundane and extraordinary that make the whole of our lives. Our work is a big part of this.

That’s why we open up when asked, What’s your biggest problem? We’re grateful to have someone to connect with, to share our problems, to receive sympathy, or help.

The power of this question to get us to reveal our lives is surprising.

Power Untapped

Even more surprising: we rarely, if ever, ask. When’s the last time you asked a customer to share their biggest problem with you?

When we ask, good things happen. Here are a few.

  • Asking creates connection because you’re letting your customer know you care.

  • When your customer responds they experience the relief of expressing something that’s been on their mind.

  • Talking about problems together, even something minor like staffing needs, builds report.

  • You get a better understanding of your customer’s needs, making it easier to solve their problems, alleviate their pain, create unexpected value, and improve their business (or life).

  • Over time you build a collection of insights into your market’s needs, opportunities, and ways that you can be a source of transformation for your customers.

The Trust Factor

You must be aware of the key determinant to this question’s effectiveness. It’s the trust factor and it works like this:

Your customer will share with you to the degree that they trust you.

If they mistrust you when you ask what their biggest problem is they’ll get defensive. They’ll assume you’re trying to find a way to take advantage.

When your customer trusts you, they share willingly.

The basis for trust is twofold: others must believe you have integrity, meaning you keep your word, and others must believe you have their best interests at heart.

If you’re asking the question and aren’t getting decent answers, you need to consider that your customers may not trust you. A bitter pill, for sure, but don’t despair. You now understand something that no one would willingly tell you and you can immediately get to work fixing it.

A final thought on trust: consider the value of what people are sharing.

Whenever a customer shares something that you can address, especially if it’s something directly related to you or your company, you must address it. To let it go without prioritizing their problem is worse than never asking in the first place.

You can’t fix every problem, but treat every response as valuable, address what you can, and never betray their trust.

Putting it together

Begin by asking your customers, “What’s your biggest problem?” If you don’t ask you’ll never know.

Take note of the answers. Are they honest, deep, meaningful? Great! No? You need to work on building trust.

Build trust by demonstrating your integrity and your commitment to your customer’s well being. Usually, the best place to start is by checking your motives. Prove you care by going the extra mile and doing something for them that won’t benefit you.

Take your customers’ responses seriously. Address issues related to you and your company, but realize that not everything is something you’re responsible for. Sometimes people just want a sympathetic ear.

Over time collect the things customers share. Look for patterns, gaps, and needs. These are opportunities to make their businesses and lives better. Use what you’re learning to improve your products and services, improve the sales experience, and to solve deeper problems for your customers.

That’s it. Start with a simple question and in time you’ll become a much better partner to your customers, leaving your competition behind, leading your market, and transforming your business.

What’s your biggest problem? I’d love to know.

Posted by Mike in Blog
Business matters because people need good work

Business matters because people need good work

This ongoing series answers the question: Why does business matter? In this post we consider how good work contributes to our wellbeing.

People need good work

How do you feel after solving a particularly difficult problem or conquering a home repair? Pretty good, right? I feel like a champ after something as simple as changing my motorcycle’s oil.

That’s what good work does for us; it creates a sense of accomplishment and worth.

Our species is designed to solve problems, to be creative, to contribute, collaborate, and to make our lives and the lives of others better.

Work provides us a chance to use our skills and talents, to exert our wills, to engage our minds, to contribute to a team, and at the end to step back, behold our handiwork and exclaim, “I did that!”

It’s not exclusive to business

Of course, good work doesn’t only happen in the context of business. Opportunities exist in our families, our homes, civic duties, and volunteer activities.

A mother teaching her child to read is working no less than a manager training a new employee. In fact, one could argue mom is creating more value.

What’s special about work and business?

The economic environment of business is one of the most important of these opportunities for people to find and do good work. It is in this setting where good work not only provides personal fulfillment, but also creates wealth.

Entrepreneur and employee alike can come to work in the morning, apply themselves to their respective challenges throughout the day, and both go home wealthier.

This wealth in turn feeds families, educates children, affords recreation, contributes to charities, underwrites hearth and home, and prepares for the future.

Good work is intrinsically rewarding and in business good work is rewarded.

A happy reality

I know the world is not tidy and that work is not always so glorious. Even so, we can’t escape our need for good work if we hope to be fulfilled. Business is one of the most virtuous arenas where this can happen.

Maybe you don’t like your job, or if you’re an owner, you think your company isn’t what you want it to be. Well, I’ve got good news my friend—you’re free to change it.

This isn’t the army where deserters are shot or a collective where dissenters are imprisoned. This is the free market. Get a new job, start a new company, or improve the one you have.

In business there’s no one stopping you from doing good work. In fact, business rewards good work while acting as a vehicle for fulfillment and flourishing. That matters.


Credits

The image 7Line_5700 was created by Metropolitan Line of the State of New York and shared under a Creative Commons license.

Posted by Mike in Blog
Episode 017: Becoming An Entrepreneur Without Starting A Business

Episode 017: Becoming An Entrepreneur Without Starting A Business

What if I told you that you don’t have to start a business to be an entrepreneur? Most people think the only way to be a business owner is to start one from scratch. And, although that’s an excellent way to go about it, there’s a lesser known path to entrepreneurship; a path that can be quicker, less risky, and better suited. In this episode I share how you can become an entrepreneur without starting your own business. Sound too good to be true? Listen in and find out for yourself!


Credits

The image used in this post was provided by tableatny and is titled Female Track Athletes at Starting Line. It was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 016: Lessons Learned From Writing Like A Powerlifter

Episode 016: Lessons Learned From Writing Like A Powerlifter

After writing 1,000 words for 65 days straight, I’ve learned a few lessons—a couple were a bit of a surprise. Take a listen and find out just what writing like an olympian powerlifter has taught me and how regular writing can make you a better entrepreneur.

Links

Here’s info on the Seinfeld Strategy that I talked about. This little trick has been pretty powerful in helping me keep the success going.

And, here’s the app I use to implement the Seinfeld Strategy. It’s called Momentum Habit Tracker. I love using it, but am sure there are many other options.

I referenced an episode of Star Trek called The Trouble with Tribbles. Learn more about it here.

Credits

The image used for this post was shot by 182nd Airlift Wing and was made available as public domain.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 015: The Best Way to Close Deals

Episode 015: The Best Way to Close Deals

Do you love winning new business but hate to close? Or, maybe you’ve found closing to be a bit of an enigma; part contact sport and part magic. Don’t worry. Closing is easy once you understand a few key ideas. In this episode I finish up our series on sales by sharing my approach to closing deals. Listen and learn how to take make closing a great experience for you and your customers.


Credits

The image used in this post was provided by the Jedimentat44 and is titled Putin Sunglasses. It was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 014: Of Hunters, and Farmers, and Sales

Episode 014: Of Hunters, and Farmers, and Sales

Ever hire a sales rep only to be disappointed with their performance? It could be that you just need to understand what kind of sales person they are. In this episode I explain the difference between the two main kinds of sales people: farmers and hunters—and how to better utilize each one. Listen and learn how you can avoid a great deal of frustration and missed revenue goals while building the perfect sales machine.


Credits

The image used in this post was provided by the USFWS Mountain-Prairie and is titled Deer Silhouette. It was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 013: 25 Years of Sales Experience Distilled to Three Points

Episode 013: 25 Years of Sales Experience Distilled to Three Points

In this episode I share my approach to sales that I’ve developed over 25 years of working with prospects and clients. Boiling it all down to three key points, I show you how you can transform the way you sell, making both your own and the lives of your prospects much better.


Credits

The image used in this post was provided by Kelly Teague and is titled Old Whiskey Pint Still Sealed. It was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 012: Prioritizing Prospects for the Win

Episode 012: Prioritizing Prospects for the Win

Why not start the new year with a smarter approach to your prospects? Most agree that prioritizing prospects makes sense, but hardly anyone does it. I share a simple approach that will help you better allocate precious resources, while driving impressive sales.


Credits

The image used in this post was provided by SD Dirk and is titled Cyclone student crowd. It was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 011: Is Cold Calling Dead or Alive?

Episode 011: Is Cold Calling Dead or Alive?

This year has witnessed many proclamations of the demise of cold calling—everyone from low-level sales reps to the founder of Hubspot are all saying the cold call is dead. But, is it really? In this episode I share my perspective on the much-maligned cold call and how this may be the best time ever to embrace it.

Credits

The image used for this post was shot by Kelly Mercer and is called Old Telephone and was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast
Episode 010: Overcoming Two Obstacles to Sales

Episode 010: Overcoming Two Obstacles to Sales

2017 is just around the corner and you’re thinking about what you’d like to accomplish next year. Odds are this includes increasing your revenues. What better way to grow your business than through sales? And yet, most people hate selling. In this episode I address two main obstacles to becoming an expert salesperson and how you can overcome them.


Credits

The image used for this post is from a series shot by Sean Perez called Dirty Girl 2013 and was shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

The music for Make It Matter was created and produced by the talented Lee Rosevere. If you like what you hear make sure to check him out.

Posted by Mike in Podcast