“Good order is in the foundation of all things.” – Edumd Burke
The New Year is here. Time to get to work. What? You say you’re already working non-stop, and the holidays were just some celebration heaped on top of more work? Sounds about right. Welcome to the life of a small business owner, right?
Let’s stop spinning those wheels and put some traction underneath your selling effort. Here are three ways to increase your effectiveness, and build in a little breathing room in your already crazy schedule.
3-Step Action Plan To Attract High Quality Customers
- Grab the Cause!
Do you know what is causing your customer to seek out your product or service? Why are they trying something different, changing what they already have, or investigating something new? It’s not about what they want (the feature/benefit of your product), but the emotional driver that sits underneath that – the real reason they are making a change to the way they have been doing things to create a different outcome. What is causing them to seek a different outcome?
- Get an Implementation Date (I-Date).
What is the actual date the customer says they are going to start using your product or service? Not the day they plan to buy it. The day they plan to start using it. I-Dates are important to pin point when the customer is going to start using what you are selling them, so they can do the thing your product or service will allow them to do. When you know the date a product or service is going to be put to use, you have a real time line and can create urgency around it.
- Assign some Homework.
One of the common failures occurs when a small business owner believes in the myth that if they do everything a customer asks of them, they will be rewarded with the sale. Often times this leads to a lot of busy work and is not a good indicator of a customer’s actual intent to buy. There is a much more efficient way to qualify your customer, and that is with a homework assignment. It is a way to provide a Give/Get for both of you to show each other you are invested in the process to solve the customer’s problem. Give them a task to do, such as a red line agenda with their top 3 priorities. In turn, you can give them some information as well, such as putting them in touch with a customer that is currently using the product/service they are investigating to share stories about how they adopted the product successfully.
The goal of this exercise is to help you free up time by eliminating the customers that will not equal a sale. If they are not willing to give you solid answers to the three questions above, chances are high that the sale will not be successful.
Karen owns a small graphic design agency. Her team has been spending hours upon hours each week chasing clients down trying to complete projects. Lack of approvals, responses, and commitments from her clients is resulting in a loss of revenue and time, and she is concerned she is going to have to start eliminating some positions from the team if things don’t pick up soon.
Karen quickly writes down her favorite clients. These clients are responsive, know what they want, pay on time, and engage in multiple projects. Using these ideal clients as her baseline, Emily uses the 3-Step Action Plan for 30 days, with a heavy emphasis on tip #3 – Homework assignments.
Instead of agreeing to accept any customer, Karen first requests a simple homework assignment. She may ask them to e-mail her a summary list of the problem they are trying to solve, or bring her team examples of what they are looking for. Because client responsiveness is so important, this action step helped Emily and her team see how engaged a potential customer was, thus helping them gauge the quality of the customer.
“We use these action steps as an immediate qualifier for a customer we want to work with. As a small agency, we used to say ‘We can’t afford to say no to anyone’… Until we realized that the difficult customers took up all our time and our work was suffering to all our clients. Now we are able to move quickly to a decision. Our time, revenue, and referrals have increased as a result.”