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Here’s How I Grew Five Businesses, and Eventually Sold One to a Fortune 500 Company.
Winning the Business: Focus on Your Prospect’s Needs
The reason business owners and salespeople exist is to solve problems for their customers. The better you are at understanding and articulating the needs of your prospect and crafting a solution to meet prospect’s needs, the more effective you will be at winning clients.
Focus on Your Prospect’s Needs First
Before you start “spouting off” your vast array of business features and services, you must deeply understand your prospect’s needs. Think of how foolish a doctor would be to prescribe a medication to a patient before making an examination. Serve your prospect like a doctor serves a patient: ask good questions, diagnose the condition and only then prescribe the best remedies to treat the business “illness.”
Ask Good Questions.
In the same way that a doctor makes a thorough examination prior to writing a prescription, you must take your prospect deep into his “pain points” or business problems. Ideally, you want to identify and quantify three to five pain points to help you demonstrate your value in solving a prospect’s needs.
Set Your Client at Ease
Remember, the reason your prospect is meeting with you is that he has a need. However, like a patient who is asked to disrobe, your prospect may be uncomfortable or embarrassed to talk about his business condition. It is your job to set your client at ease. Be quick to admit a fault or mistake you have made recently or in the past; that will help your client to realize that you are human just like them.
Pay Sincere Compliments
It is also helpful to first find things to praise about your client’s business: the size of the business, the length of time in business, their facility, their employees, etc. Congratulating them for their successes makes it easier for them to discuss their problems later. Ask them what they like most about their business, why they started their business, what advice would they give to a new business owner. These are “feel-good questions” that will help set them at ease knowing that you see their value.
Then move into the broad pain questions:
- What are the top three frustrations in business that you deal with?
- We find that many business owners have problems with cash flow, working too many hours and not spending enough time with family or friends. Do you?
- Do you find it hard to find good employees? customers?
- We had a client who was stung by a large bad debt. Has that happened to you?
Move Into Specific Pain Questions
Once you have developed your list of three to five pain points, get a deeper understanding of the issues. Do not gloss over these! These are important to help the prospect to understand the issues and how much the problems are costing them. Ask the following questions about each pain point:
- Tell me more about______________________.
- How long have you been experiencing this problem?
- What attempts have you made to solve the problem?
- Have you given up?
- How much would you ballpark this problem is costing you per year?
Repeat back or rephrase the answers to your questions to demonstrate that you understand and empathize with your prospect. If you sense that your prospect becomes a bit emotional during this exercise, you have done a good job of helping them grasp the reality of their problems that you will solve.
Recap Your Prospect’s Pain Points
Recap each problem and the estimated costs for each problem. Add the costs up to determine the total costs that your coaching solutions could save.
*As a possible interim step, you can ask about the prospect’s budget for your services or product. However, many small business owners do not have budgets. As long as you can demonstrate that your remedy is going to save them a lot more than the cost of your service/product, you can win their business.
Prescribe the Remedy
Now you should be ready to craft your proposal to the prospect’s needs. A few more questions will help you to focus on your prospect’s needs and refine your proposal:
- What are the top three things you want out of a service provider?
- What would you want to change?
- Are you working toward a deadline?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is solving these problems to you?
- How often would you like to see me or talk on the phone each month?
- Simply list each pain point in your proposal with the coaching solution for each one and the dollar savings goal for each point. If you have done a good job with this, the cost for your service/product will be insignificant to the benefits you will bring your client.
When you focus on your prospect’s needs, they will understand that you care about them. Doing the above will take some practice, but once you are proficient at this, you will win many customers!
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