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You Become Your Customers [As a Salesperson]

You become your customers, so beware!

Most people starting a business have an "I'll take what's available" mindset. They got this from job hunting, and the problem with it is that they're choosing their opportunities from the things they can currently see.

Now we've discussed how critical your Reticular Activating System is when it comes to filtering all that data out there down to the survival-relevant few. That better level of customer is standing right there next to you, but you can't see them because your RAS blocked them out!

The same thing happens with salespeople. They land the new job, settle into their role, and get told by the old hands, "Here's our target market."

After all, it has always been so.

open sign, open for business, choose your customers, sales tactics, positioning, target market, define target market

Photo by Amina Filkins from Pexels

Now if you're an operational excellence guy like me, those are trigger words. Any time I hear, "But we've always done it this way," I get curious. "Oh? According to whom? For how long? Why?"

But especially if you are a business owner, and a new business owner, realize that you have far more control over your target market than you may have realized.

Most people abdicate this responsibility.

They go out into the market and take what comes.

How You Become Your Customers

Price level? We've discussed this for years, how people make up a number that fits their money tolerance.

The size of their standard customer's business? Whatever they encountered first and got accustomed to. Now it's ingrained and "obvious".

How those buyers pay? Are they always 30 days late from the invoice?

And here's the serious problem.

You accept this.

Whatever they give you, you take.

Their behavior alters your behavior.

After awhile, you've forgotten any of this is in your control. It just "is".

They pay 30 days late? Well, now you pay 30 days late. That's just how it is.

You become your customers.

So choose wisely.

Don't take surface appearance's word for it.

Dig.

Get to know your marketplace.

Look for niches, levels, types of customers that aren't readily apparent.

Look for bundling opportunities of products or services, ways to add value, how you can really impress your ideal customer.

Don't simply accept the first thing you run into out there.

You have far more control over your target market choice than you think.

What would happen if you made a list of the desired qualities of your ideal customer... and then instructed your RAS to start filtering for that?

>> Jason Kanigan is a business development and conversion expert. Want Jason's help in defining your realistic, ideal target market? Book a consultation <<

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Expanding Your Influence [Business Newbie Guide Part 5]

expanding your influenceExpanding your influence is a key factor in increasing your business. If no one knows who you are, or what problems you solve, they won't know to get ahold of you for help.

This is why those who jump from shiny object to shiny object never get anywhere. You see them, five years later, still floundering. They haven't stood for anything, and so haven't become known for anything. Don't become that kind of person!

To make this kind of transformation happen, you must prepare to share your message with people.

And the best way to do this is being an interview guest on targeted radio shows and podcasts!

If you have some experience with a niche, topic or marketplace, you have more knowledge about it than many other people. And lots of these people will be interested in learning what you know about! You do not need to be an in-depth expert on a subject to be qualified to talk about it. Just keep in mind your target audience. Who are they? What level are they at? Who are you best able to help? If you're clear with this up front, your audience will self-select and appreciate it.

I know a lot about selling. But an in-depth interview on Fit like this one is simply not something suitable for newbies to the subject. If the listener was an experienced sales executive or business owner, however, this interview would be a huge help to them.

On the lock picking topic, I don't know a whole lot. But I do know much more than the average person, and so it's interesting for me to share some surprising observations that are matching that newbie level.

So know where you're at and who your target audience is before you take the next step in expanding your influence.

Then do this:

Write a Bio Sheet for Expanding Your Influence

Summarize your Why, your background and your promise in a couple paragraphs.

Keep this short; we'll see why in a minute. This is a hook, not a resume.

Include your name, phone number, time zone, a backup communication method (eg. Skype ID), and email address.

Draft a Sample Questions Sheet

Write seven to ten sample questions people at your target audience's level of understanding would have about your topic.

Prepare answers to them, and rehearse! Don't skip the rehearsal. Live on air is NOT the time to be figuring out your response.

Put Them On a Media Page

Save these files in pdf format. If you have a website, post them on a Media page.

Write some text above them explaining you are available as an interview guest. Then invite the visitor to download the pdf files to consider you as a guest.

Now you have a place to refer hosts to.

Now a caution: you will have to update the bio sheet and questions as time goes on. Personally, for example, I am so bored with talking about cold calling. I no longer want to talk about it. I have done that interview fifty times. So after my first year doing interviews, I changed it up. Pricing, business models, and funnels are currently my interests. And the bio and questions needed to be revised to reflect that.

So why are we doing this?

Radio show and podcast hosts are EAGER for fresh, interesting content that is valuable to their audience.

That's why it's vital to remember that you have value, regardless of the depth of knowledge you have. As long as you know more than your target audience, and you're clear about who you are talking to, you will be welcomed as a guest.

Now the reason we created the bio sheet and sample questions is...to make life easy for the host.

They will likely read your bio word for word at the beginning of their show. So make sure their introduction of you is spicy and memorable! The beauty of this is it's completely under your control: you write the words. Get that perception started off right!

And then they will go through the questions you've prepared. They will skip the ones that don't interest them, or that they think aren't relevant to their audience. Keep track of this behavior. If you find a question is constantly being skipped, replace it with another. If another question is consistently being welcomed with excitement, prepare and amp up your answer for maximum effect.

Yes, they may ask questions that aren't on your list. But only one or two questions, probably; the rest, you'll be totally familiar with.

Where to Find Sources of Expanding Your Influence

Google "Podcast (topic)".

Google "Radio show (topic)".

And go to radioguestlist.com.

Choose your targets carefully. Out of a dozen shows I'm emailed about, I might choose just a single possibility to send my information to.

Remember, these people WANT to hear from you...if what you have to share is aligned with what their audience wants to hear!

So don't ever feel embarrassed or shy about reaching out.

Send a quick email to the producer of the show. Explain that you'd like to be a guest on their program. Give at least one good reason why you believe you're a fit for their audience.

Attach your bio and questions sheets, or link them to your Media page. Hey, all the work they want done is already completed! You've made it easy for them. They appreciate that.

When they reply to confirm they'd like you to be a guest on the show, calendar the time. Make sure you show up. Keep that backup communication method handy...you never know when your primary method will crap out.

Have a "next step" for listeners to take. The hosts will give you a chance for a bit of self-promotion at the end: a website listeners can visit, a location they can buy something from you.

Send a thank you note after the show is recorded.

Start using these show recordings as marketing collateral.

Post them on your site, or at least links to them. Write about them. Post on social media.

The more your target market can hear and see you before they ever actually speak to you in person, the more geared they will be to buying from you.

The Next Method for Expanding Your Influence

Once you've implemented everything up to and including this fifth step, it's time to talk to me.

>> Want Jason's help? If you're already making money competently producing a product or service, we could be a fit. <<

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What Product Should I Make?

what product should I makeWhat product should I make? I'm frequently asked this question, whether privately, on forums, or expert platforms. Those asking usually but not always have some technical expertise. They can make something. But they're just not sure what.

Know why they have this problem? They're not close enough to their target market.

They're thinking too much about themselves.

What needs to be created is not in them. It's in their target market. And to find out what that is, you have to get real close and listen to what that niche is saying.

Guessing is not okay.

Creating a better mousetrap is not okay.

Do not work in isolation.

Do not rush out and make a product as fast as you can because you feel you must.

Take some time.

Go speak with your target customers. Hear what they have to say. Yes, this will slow your time to market; however, you will end up with a product people actually want rather than a dud.

Don't Ask Yourself 'What Product Should I Make?'

My first "product" was a 30-minute phone sales training call. It was later expanded into a 3-hour conversation and a membership site format. Now it's a four-figure program with two supporting membership sites.

I did not run out and create it as soon as I began interacting with the marketplace in the fall of 2011. Instead, I first interacted with that audience for three full months. I answered forum questions that demonstrated I knew my topic.

In fact, one of the big issues was how to package what I knew into a bite-sized format! Operations management, coypwriting and sales training were all competency areas, and I did not know which one would take off. If I had pushed out a product as soon as possible in 2011, it very likely would have been off the mark. What actually happened is by January 2012 I was recognized as an expert in the sales training field by this marketplace, and there was pent-up demand for something from me.

By simply casually reviewing the interactions I had had with my customer base over the past three months, it was simple to pick out two facts: only one other phone sales trainer was selling his services there, and nobody else was talking about the consultative approach. There was a need for someone to teach a straightforward, friendly, ethical way to start great sales conversations by phone.

If I had not spent the time interacting with my marketplace beforehand, I would have gone off the trail and created something nobody wanted. Talking with my target market allowed me to niche down. It gave me the boundaries to package part of what I knew into something they wanted. It also let them "try before you buy"--they got to see my expertise before having to make the decision about whether to invest in it or not.

Rush in and you'll get neither of these vital results.

How You Can Answer 'What Product Should I Make?'

Now the good news is you don't have to spend three months working with your target niche before coming up with something profitable. I had copywriting work during those months that allowed me to take my time. But you may only have a few weeks, and that's all right. You just need to talk to people. Not try to sell them anything. Just talk to them.

In my last post, I discussed how you can conduct information interviews with decision makers in your chosen niche. In these interviews, you will learn what key problems they have and how critical it is for your potential customers to get them solved. Just call, say you're doing some research, and set up a time for a 15-to-20-minute interview. You'll be amazed how easy these are to get, and how informative they are. You may find you were headed down the wrong path and a much more profitable idea was hidden from view.

When one decision maker in a niche tells you about a problem, you can be sure many decision makers in that niche are experiencing the same issue.

When two or more decision makers in a niche share the same difficulty with you, especially when using the same wording, you have a winner.

Then you have a strong answer to 'What product should I make?' and can go create the solution.

But hear it from your target market first.

Other Sources of Answers to 'What Product Should I Make?'

A couple other really good sources of problems your market is experiencing are:

Magazines.com

Go to magazines.com and see if there are magazines for your niche.

If there is even one title for your topic, you know there is a market.

Now read the headlines. What are they talking about? What problems are they highlighting, that they're using as hooks to encourage readers to open to Page Whatever to find the solution for?

Amazon/Kindle Reviews

Head over to Amazon and search for books in your niche. Now look at the reviews. Read them. You'll run across things like "I bought this book because..." and "It really helped me to...". These sentences tell you exactly what was going on in your target customer's head. A bunch of customers are saying the same thing? Great! Now can you fix that problem?

Maybe you should buy the book, if there are several reviews discussing a problem and solution you can have an effect on.

But nothing takes the place of genuine conversations with real members of your target market. Don't chicken out. You could be missing a fortune in exchange for a simple task if you do.

ADVANCED PRICING IDEA: look for problems the size of which lets you set a price at 5-10% of that value...and also allows you to hit your monthly revenue target with a reasonable number of sales.

If you're interested in a framework or roadmap that builds a business for you around what I've been sharing here, check out Jeff Steinmann's How To Quit Working.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business development expert. Did this information help you? Please Like or Share to let others know! And if you have a question about "What Product Should I Make?", comment below! <<