What Should FRIGHTEN Every Business
Fear is an odd thing. I know a home inspector who crawls in to the tiniest spaces, full of dirt, bugs, spiders, snakes and more. He isn’t bothered in the least if a rat scurries through an attic while he is doing an inspection. Yet. my home inspector friend is impressed by my “fearlessness” in speaking in front of large groups. Little does he know that I still don’t LOVE public speaking. It’s just a skill I’ve learned.
As business owners, there are many things that give us anxiety. I don’t know a single business owner who hasn’t stayed up late at night, unable to sleep, worried about what is happening in their business, and the problems that threaten their income, customers, reputation, etc…
However, I think many of the things businesses should be worried about are things we often don’t consider. Here are a few of the things you SHOULD be frightened of and how to deal with them.
1. Not Knowing What your Employees Are Saying to Clients and Prospects.
Want a spine tingling chill? Listen to what your employees say to your clients and prospects. I guarantee you that a chill will run up your spine, and you won’t even have to visit the haunted house.
In a recent visit to the airport, I was stopped at a vending booth by the employee. “Those are EIGHT DOLLARS!” she said, “Are you sure you want to buy that?” I smiled, replying with a yes, and proceeded with my transaction. Consider my customer experience with this business. The employee actually tried to talk me out of spending money with this business.
In a business I am coaching, I heard from the owner that they use a ticket system to keep track of and record customer request. They also record customer phone calls. Yet, the owner has heard his technicians claim to clients that they “don’t know” the specifics of an issue. Upon investigating, they don’t know because that haven’t spent time to read the ticket and understand the issue. This isn’t a great look for a business that says it delivers “Elite Service and Support.”
These issues stem from employee misunderstandings about HOW things should be done in your business. To fix this, you need a playbook, or a process that documents for everyone how to do things the RIGHT way. Image a document in your business that tells your employees how to answer the phone or how to talk to an upset client.
Process and Playbooks are only part of the solution. Writing and introducing a process is fine, but does your team FOLLOW the process? How are you going to audit and enforce the process so that it is followed by all employees?
2. The Lack of a COMPELLING Reason for Prospects to Meet with You
We started a program called “Launch Wichita Falls” through my Rotary Club. One of the students asked for help because they were having significant problems breaking into the market. I listened to them as they told me everything they had tried, lamenting all the wasted marketing dollars. When it was my turn, I asked them to tell me their businesses mission. The format I gave them was simple:
I help ________________________ do _______________________.
They choose me because unlike anyone else I __________________________.
The student could not provide a compelling answer for the second sentence. Why do client’s choose him? Nothing? Okay, have you spoken to the client’s you do have and asked them why they choose you? No? What about your competition, where are they failing? No Clue.
So we established a plan, a plan I would recommend you follow too if you are stuck not knowing what your market really wants. Step 1, talk to TEN would be prospects. Buy them some coffee, pay for their lunch, but sit down face to face and speak to them. Tell them about your business, and about wanting to help them. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT A SALES PITCH!) Then ask them about their problems, where their current provider is winning, and where they are losing. Step 2, catalog the answers and then go talk to TEN more prospects, then TEN more, until you clearly understand what you can offer your client that no one else can. What you can do better. Keep talking to your prospects until you understand that they will choose you because unlike anyone else, you DO THE THING THAT MATTERS TO THEM!
3. The Failure of the Market, the Offer or the Pipeline
In business, it’s truly terrifying to realize that you don’t have these things figured out. The first thing you want is a growing or at least a stable market. Your market needs to have lots of prospects whom you can easily speak to, and most importantly, your market needs to have money to spend on your products and services. Identifying your market, and serving the right market can make the difference between a profitable business and a failure.
Provided that you have a solid market, you also need an irresistible offer. Many businesses have failed spectacularly because of bad offers. I recall “New Coke” back in the 1980’s and how badly that entire product line failed. It simply wasn’t what Coca-Cola’s target market wanted.
What is an irresistible offer – it’s an offer your prospects find amazingly, irresistibly valuable. How customers understand value is the subject of another article, but rest assured, when your offer is right, your market respond. If your market is healthy and isn’t responding to your marketing efforts, the problem is likely your offer.
Once you’ve identified your target market, and you are absolutely positive about your offer, you need to get prospects, and lots of them! At the end of the day, getting prospects is about speaking to your market, and if you don’t have a process around talking to your market you are in trouble. You need to figure out where your market hangs out, and then talk to them everywhere they are, in every way that they will listen. This goes back to really understanding your market.
Your Costume is a Little Scary
Maybe I’ll hand out copies of E-Myth by Michael Gerber to all the business operators who come to me this Halloween dressed as entrepreneurs. Yes – building out processes, playbooks, and offers is a huge pile of WORK! Figuring out what sets you apart is equally hard work, but it is the work you should be doing if your goal is to run a business that makes money and delivers solid results to your clients.