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Know Your Clients Thoughts – Three Questions

Know your clients thoughts is one of the keys to be successful as an expert in business. This is part 3 in a 4-part series – part one here, part two here.

The Big Trap for many Business Experts

The big trap for many business experts – both beginners and seasoned pros – is that they try to sell their clients what they have got and not what the client needs.

Imagine turning up to your local farmer’s marketing wanting some rhubarb to make your famous family favourite rhubarb pie. You walk up to the stallholder and ask, ‘I would like some rhubarb, please.’ And the stallholder replies, ‘I have great apples.’

This is what a lot of experts do. The client wants rhubarb, and we try to sell them our apples.

Rhubarb and Apples - The Big Mistake many Business Experts Make

To be successful as an expert in business you need two things:

  1. One, you need to know what your clients want
  2. Two, you need to be able to sell this in a way that fits your potential clients.

In this post, I’ll share three crucial questions. You’ll need to answer each of these to show you to know your client’s thoughts so you can be successful as an expert in business.

These basic principles apply to both new and existing business experts. Plus, you can apply them to new products or services that you are developing. And I’ll share the single best way you can find out your clients thoughts.

How to Know Your Clients’ Thoughts

Now, let’s dive into our big idea for today: How to know your client’s thoughts.

If you’re an expert in business and you’re not getting the results you want, then there is a good chance you don’t really know your client’s thoughts. And this usually means you’re either trying to sell them something they don’t want, or you’re trying to sell something in a way that they can’t hear you.

I call myself the Ideas Architect because I used to be an architect, but I don’t design buildings anymore. Now I design ideas. Now, if you heard this, you might think, ‘That’s cute. But I don’t really need that.’ And you’re right.

This is an example of a poorly formed elevator pitch. And the reason it’s poorly formed is because it’s all about me. It’s a fun way of describing me. But it doesn’t speak to the client and what they need.

I don’t think there is a single person in the world right now lying awake at night saying to themselves, ‘If only I had an Ideas Architect.’

The Cocktail Party Effect

Have you ever been to a party that was really noisy and you heard someone say your name from across the room?

The Cocktail Party Effect

If they had said anyone else’s name, you wouldn’t have heard it. But, because it’s your name, you did. This is the Cocktail Party Effect.

Our clients are like this. They’re walking around with a problem in their heads.

  • Better cash flow.
  • A boost in sales.
  • To train their staff.
  • Get their deliveries done on time.

If you can name the problem they have in their head then you can grab their attention.

Even better, if you can name their problem they’re more likely to turn to you for a solution.

If you can’t name the problem they have in their head then they can’t hear you – you effectively don’t exist. And when this happens you have zero chance of selling them anything.

The solution is to create a simple pitch that speaks to the clients from their perspective. This is the single most important thing you can do to know your clients thoughts and that is to start thinking from their perspective.

The Best Way to Pitch to Your Clients

My favourite and best example of how to do this comes from Agile or Scrum software development.

Stories not Tasks - Scrum product development

Many people when creating a project plan write down a whole bunch of things to do – a to-do list. But in Scrum, they write stories, not tasks. This means instead of writing down what you must do as a task, you write down the goal you want to produce. Most importantly, you write this as the client wants to experience it.

It’s all about what your client wants, not what you can provide.

It’s not only a powerful way to find innovative solutions to your client’s problems, it’s also essential if you want to pitch and sell to them.

The Client Pitch Formula

The best part of the Scrum or Agile story approach is that they have a simple three-part formula to follow for creating your client or product stories:

As an X, I want to Y so I can Z. 

  • ‘As an X’ defines who the end-user or client is. 
  • ‘I want to Y’ tell us what the client wants to achieve.
  • And ‘so I can Z’ tells us why the client wants this – their motivation.

In other words, it’s WHO, WHAT and WHY.

As an X, I want to Y, so I can Z - Know your clients thoughts

Let’s look at an example for my business at Anywhere Experts:

  • As an X = As a Business Expert
  • I want to Y = Earn money from what I know from anywhere
  • So I can Z = Be free to live my best life.

As a full statement this reads:

As a business expert (X), I want to earn money from what I know from anywhere (Y) so I can be free to live my best life (Z). 

Let’s look at the three parts separately so you can do this for yourself.

X: Who is your Client?

Our first question to help you know your clients thoughts is about the X – Who do you want to work with?

This is crucial because this is the point of view we want to see the problem from.

  • In my example, I said ‘business experts’. This could also be speakers, trainers, coaches or mentors.
  • If you work with organisations it might be CEOs, Managers, Department Heads or Frontline staff.
  • If you work with consumers it might be Mums, teenage boys or people in wheelchairs.

Y: What does your Client want?

Our second question to help you know your clients thoughts is about the Y: What needs to be done? What specifically do your clients want?

In my example, the people I work with want to earn money from what they know, and they want to be able to do that from anywhere.

Your clients might want to:

  • Write and publish a book
  • Save money on their tax return
  • Put up a great looking website
  • Learn how to invest their money
  • Put a great slide presentation together

What do your clients want to get done?

Z: Why do they want that?

Our third question to help you know your clients thoughts is about the Z: Why do they need this to be done?

In my example, the people I work with want freedom – they want to earn good money doing great work with inspiring people in wonderful locations – often with their families. This is all about them living a great life.

This is all about their motivation.

When you know why your clients want what they want then you can provide a better solution to them.

For example, what sort of car does someone want? That depends on whether they are a farmer or a Mum and what jobs they want to do with that car. Is it to carry sheep or carry the kids? Is it tow the caravan or do the shopping?

Write down the reason your clients want what they want.

Who, What, Why - Three part pitch formula

What to do with your Client Thought Statement 

Now you want to put it all together as a single statement:  As an X, I want to Y so I can Z. Once you’ve done that you can use your client pitch/thought statement in some of these ways (and more):

  • At networking events when people ask you what you do.
  • Put it in big bold letters on your website so visitors know instantly how you can help them.
  • Share this on your social media profiles and Linked In profile so people know what you do.
  • Use this to design products or services for your clients.
  • Whenever you are pitching yourself to a potential client.  

Summary: Know your clients thoughts

Let’s wrap up what we’ve covered here: How to know your clients thoughts.

The big mistake many business experts make is that they talk about what they do and not what the clients wants.

If you want to be successful as an expert in business, you need to have good answers to these three crucial questions:

  1. Who is my client?
  2. What do they want?
  3. Why do they want it?

The best way to know your clients thoughts

Here’s the bonus: What’s the best way to know your clients’ thoughts?

Know your clients thoughts - ask and listen

The answer here is pretty obvious. But the reality is that so few people do this. If you want to be successful as an expert in business, this is a simple way to get ahead of most of your competitors.

The best way to know your client’s thoughts is to ask them what they’re thinking. And then shut up and listen to what they say. Yep, I told you it was pretty obvious.

The best way to do this is to have a one-on-one with your clients or potential clients and ask them:

  • What do you need?
  • Why do you want that?

Ideally, you would do this as your number one priority when you first meet with them. You might call this your Client Needs Analysis.

Even better, build a business process around this so that it happens every single time you have a business enquiry or a meeting with a potential client.

And the key here is to write down their exact words. Not your summary of their words, but the exact words that come out of their mouth.

More: Be successful as an expert in business

 This is the third in a four-part series in how to be successful as an expert in business. Here are the links to the other posts:

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