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The One Question To Ask Prospective Clients Before Deciding To Work With Them
When you became an entrepreneur, you did so knowing you would be responsible for your own success. You also knew your success would be determined by how much value you create for your customers.
Value is a tricky thing, though. You could have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it properly—that is, explain why it will contribute to someone’s bigger and better future—you’ll never convince people to pay for it.
Setting yourself apart.
That’s because how you sell something matters much more than what you’re selling.
And how you sell something is through coaching.
It’s through showing you care more about improving someone’s life than you do about taking their money.
Putting people over profit.
This isn’t to say you can run a successful business selling lemons just by convincing people they’re diamonds, though. That’s not creating customer value. Rather, if you want to distinguish your dental practice or financial advice or architectural designs from someone else’s, you have to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
You have to show how you’ll help make their future better, not just help them accrue more stuff.
And universally, people want three things out of their future: simplicity, clarity, and confidence.
Becoming an expert in someone’s future.
If you can help someone make complex things simple and confusing things clear—in essence, if you can empower them to transform conflicting situations into confidence-building opportunities—you’ll have shifted the focus from your goals to theirs, from selling a thing to creating a game plan.
It’s this kind of insight, support, and encouragement that lies at the heart of the coaching mindset, and it can be applied in any business just by asking the right questions.
Ensure your entrepreneurial success by selling a bigger and better future for your prospective clients. Learn how to package your unique value and charge for your wisdom with our Overcoming Commoditization flipbook.
The Dan Sullivan Question
There’s one question in particular that, if you’re a right fit for someone and they for you, will set your relationship up for success right from the start. If you aren’t a right fit, it will save you both a lot of time and energy finding out now rather than later.
It goes like this: “If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”
One of two things will happen when you ask this question.
They’ll either answer it … or they won’t.
If they don’t answer the question, they really don’t want you in their future. And, more importantly, you don’t want to be in theirs, because they’re not going to be receptive to your help. They aren’t willing to be coached.
But if they do answer it, what they’re actually saying is, “If you can be useful to me in my future, I’d like you to be a part of it.”
Just by asking this question (and really listening to their answer), what you’ve done is provide a framework for simplifying the complexities in their life. You’ve not only enabled them to clarify their goals, you’ve given them confidence in their ability to achieve them.
Taking it a step further.
If you’ve gotten that far, you’re now safe to answer an important follow-up question: “Specifically, what dangers do you have now that need to be eliminated, what opportunities need to be captured, and what strengths need to be maximized?”
An engagement strategy like no other.
Now you’ve given someone the means to articulate what matters most to them in life. You’ve also given yourself a way to show you’re somebody who cares and is willing to help.
If you can solve even one of their challenges, you’ll have sold your product or service without ever needing to use a sales pitch. You’ll have proven your value by intellectually and emotionally investing in their bigger future.
And the result of that investment, of your creating customer value, is usually a gratitude you can quantify. It might not seem like the most direct route to your entrepreneurial goals, but it is the most effective and sustainable. If you focus only on profit, your business will never reach its potential. If you focus on people, you’ll be unstoppable. (And a lot happier too.)
Once you grasp the mindset that you’re going to help a person create a bigger and better future for themselves, and you don’t hold it as a condition for doing it that they have to buy your product or service, you’ll never have to worry about finding customers again.