Captain’s log, stardate 20230919
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How to uncover what benefits your clients REALLY want
Buyers who are working with limited knowledge will often self-diagnose and prescribe the only solution that they are aware of.
Then, they reach out to sellers who provide this solution and ask for it directly.
“Hey, doc! My chest has been hurting. I Googled around, and apparently, I need a triple bypass. When can we start?”
The issue here is not that there is actually only one solution to the client’s problem. It’s that the client is only aware of one solution and is asking for it directly.
A doctor would never accept a client’s self-diagnosis and neither should you.
Here’s the thing...
Your clients don’t really want hours or words or revisions or code or features or websites or photos or videos or illustrations or contracts or blueprints or any other sort of inputs or deliverables from you.
What clients REALLY want are benefits.
Unfortunately, prospective clients almost never spontaneously share their desired business outcomes with you in a sales interview.
So, how do you find out what your clients REALLY want?
At some point in your initial meeting with a prospective client, they will brain dump about the proposed project for about 20 minutes.
There might not be much useful information in this monologue, but you have to let them get it off their chest before you can get down to the heart of the matter, which is this:
Why they want to do the project at all?
Questioning the premise of the project before they do the dump will frustrate or confuse them. They will gloss over the answer so they can jump to the dump.
So... you have to let them get it out of their system. Keep your mouth shut and let them vent. When they finally come up for air, you say:
“Thanks for that. Lots of helpful information here. Can we back up for a sec?”
Good clients will say, “Sure!”
And then you ask some variation of this:
“Why is this project becoming a priority now? Has something changed?”
Typically, they’ll have shared something in the dump that you can use to make this question more specific, like:
- “You mentioned that your cart abandonment rate has been over 80% for 18 months. Why is it becoming a priority now?”
- “You mentioned that your main competitor just launched this new feature yesterday. Why not wait a month to see if it’s adopted by the market before rushing to copy it?”
- “You mentioned that you’re not 100% sure what caused the drop off in traffic. Would it make sense to take a few months to research the issue before proceeding with this project?”
Once you’ve started asking these sorts of “Why” questions, you keep doing it...
- “Why do this now? Wouldn’t it be better to keep an eye on the issue for a few months?”
- “Why hire someone like me? Couldn’t you save a ton of money by off-shoring this?”
- “Why not use something off-the-shelf? Wouldn’t that be cheaper than paying for custom code?”
- etc etc etc
Don’t stop asking Why questions until you are convinced that you are - or are not - a good fit for the project.
The Why Conversation
For obvious reasons, I refer to this as the “Why Conversation.” Having a Why Conversation sort of feels like trying to talk the prospect out of hiring you because... well, you kind of are trying to talk the prospect out of hiring you.
If you CAN talk them out of hiring you, then they didn’t need you that badly (i.e., the perceived value of your engagement was low, which means you couldn’t have charged much).
If you CAN NOT talk them out of hiring you, then as they answer each Why question, one by one, they’ll be convincing themselves that you are the best option.
By the end of a successful Why conversation, you’ll have something to base your fee on because you’ll have learned:
- Why the project is urgent to the client
- What they think will happen if they don’t do the project
- The feared business impact of failing to act now
- Why they think you’re a good fit for the project
- Why they don’t want to go with a cheaper option
Once you have this info, you can start to wrap the meeting and go write a proposal that is focused on what the client REALLY cares about.
P.S. Do you dread sales meetings? Not sure what to say? Feel like you need to pitch yourself?
Lesson 3 of The Pricing Seminar is about how to get a ballpark idea of what a project is worth to your prospect so you can base your prices on value instead of cost.
And best of all? No pitching required ;-)
Registration for the 12th session of TPS is open now. Lessons start this coming Monday, so don’t delay:
Enroll Now »
I hope to see you there!
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