Not surprising at all. Given most of us have invented our trades in the nanosecond it took for the business world to turn on its head, courtesy of the digital revolution.
So, most folk in our buying cycle start from an place of apparent satisfaction, because they’re generally unaware there’s an issue in the first place. This is not ignorance. It’s just the way it is in our multi-layered, complex overlay of individual and super-niched service offerings.
You don’t know the problems I know you have, nor I the problems you know I have.
Here’s the science
To test this theory, the next time you’re in a networking situation and in a conversation with someone you’ve only just met try this. When they skim the surface of a problem you have the answer for, tell them immediately you can solve it.
They’ll retreat faster than a snail withdraws its feelers and slams back into its shell. What problem, they’ll ask? They’re sorted. They’re all over it. That’s because we recoil at the first whiff of being sold to.
It’s also because it’s possibly not the real problem. Like an onion, problems have multiple layers.
Even if they have some awareness, articulating its complexity and intimacy is not something they’re about to share with you, a virtual stranger outside of having exchanged courtesies and cards.
Reverse the psychology. Note what happens to you in the same situation. Often, by way of a polite response to a business pitch, you’ll agree to an issue.
If your over-enthusiastic acquaintance launches into an immediate description of exactly how they can solve the problem for you, you too will beat a hasty retreat.
Which is marginally disconcerting, given that networking is still how many business owners set about twinning new custom.
And too, that you could provide them with a top-rate solution for the issues they don’t know they have. But you’re not going to get within cooee* of doing so, by trumpeting your offer in the first few seconds of meeting someone.
So,how do you communicate that they’ve got a problem you’ve identified and have a solution for, that they don’t know they have?
So much for the science, now the Art.
Tricky. But not impossible. Take my business. I help business owners build communities that advocate, support and contribute to their success and along the way, make a difference to others.
The benefits of a business clan are not difficult to convey as a big picture concept. Actually, it’s a buzz word at present. Everyone is talking about community. As if it is something you pick up off a shelf, open and bingo. Instant clan.
Not possible, folk.
The fact is that building a thriving clan doesn’t happen without a whole lot of other stuff being done right in the first place.
Convincing an already strapped-for-time business owner, they need to commit a whole lot more time and resources to solve a problem they don’t know they have is a pretty tough ask.
Until you push a red hot poker right into the heart of their pain spots. (With sincere apologies to my clan reading this, but it’s done to better serve you, believe me.)
“You’re really busy, but wouldn’t mind finding a few more good customers?” “So not the ones that run you ragged and then complain about the bill?”
“You’re flat out as it is and then there’s just so much to do to market your business online?” “It’s a challenge to work out how to prioritise, especially if you’re not getting great results.”
“You’re spending so much time on social media trying to market your business, you’re hardly got time to do paid work?” “The web can certainly be a time-sucking black hole.”
“Your web designer charged you WHAT? For changing one word?”
“You’ve lost your passwords, can’t renew your domain, and can’t get into the back end of your site?” That feels a bit like owning the car, but not the keys.”
Here’s where it gets interesting. Recently at a Key Person Of Influence sales seminar, Glen Carlson explained that if your intention is to serve, then a sales conversation starts by having a respectful conversation aimed at gently uncovering the real problem.
Further to that, you can discuss the implications of having such a problem but not addressing it. In many cases, the implications over a period of time can be quite dire. Stress, burnout, disillusion, loss of interest, family problems, going broke.
Art with a capital A.
Which brings me to a universal solution. What if there was a way in which a business owner could work through a structured process to drive a thriving business that was fun, profitable and made a purposeful difference to theirs and others’ lives? Sounds like nirvana right?
There is. And it’s not rocket science either. It’s about establishing a purpose for being in business in the first place. A Why.
It’s also about embracing curiosity. You really do need to know who, where and how many are looking for exactly what you offer.
When you know that, it’s easier to work out how to position and brand your purpose online.
That makes it a whole lot less painful to effectively outline a plan that informs your online presence and activity.
Once you have resolved to own, shape and manage your online assets (so you have both the car and the keys), then you have a rock-solid platform from which you can communicate with purpose.
This connects you to your most wanted visitor.
When you offer them a way in which they can collaborate with you to make a difference, that spawns a new and dynamic business conversation. One that converts your visitor into an advocate, a 24/7 sales force and builds you a thriving clan.
As Seth Godin said: “Tribes make our lives better and leading a tribe is the best life of all.”
That’s Art with a capital A.
This is a one in a series of monthly Word Carnival events, hosted by Tea Silvestre, The Word Chef. This month’s topic is ” The Art And Science of Solving Small Business Problems.
If you would like to find out more about building your clan, you can read the book, Clans, Supercharge Your Business By Harnessing the Passion of People Online, or attend Clans. The Workshop.
* Cooee. Australia word meaning to call across a long distance. Or as in this instance, wide of the mark!