What problem can you solve? More specifically, what problem can you solve for whom?
These two parameters are the heart and soul of your value proposition. You have to know your audience and you have to know what their challenges, issues or problems are. If you know these not, you have nothing.
The more specific you can be in terms of “for whom”, the more enjoyable and fulfilling will your career be.
It is not what you do that matters … not at all. What matters is for whom you do it. The “whoms” are the ones who make payment. And it’s their challenges, issues and problems that move them.
If you can identify your “whoms” and feel their pain, you will be in a very good sales position.
How good are you really? In the sales game, can you talk people into doing things they really don’t want to do?
Look back over your last 10 sales. How many were the result of your silver-tongue; your being able to overcome objections flawlessly and product knowledge so complete that you truly were the guru of fabled lore? And no one could resist your charm, charisma and … oh please.
Stop it. Your words have little to do with their decision. What matters is your civility, your respect, your concern … your ability to uncover, understand and care about their issue.
The hard part is to earn their favor so that you have the opportunity to be there when they need you.
Compel? No. Impel? No. Care? Yes.
I prospect for new business all the time. I use Linkedin to do so. I seek to meet small business
owners in Mecklenburg county.
I have discovered when I ask (via email) my newly connected prospects if they would rather schedule a phone call or meet for coffee, 99% of the time, we meet for coffee.
Conclusion drawn: People in Charlotte who are on Linkedin, want to meet other people in Charlotte who are on Linkedin, face to face.
What is the validity of this conclusion? Are all people on Linkedin open to meeting others who are on Linkedin for coffee?  How unpopular is a telephone call today?  Is Charlotte unique?  How important is geographic proximity when connecting with new prospects?
It is a different world today and the prospecting efforts we used to do, don’t do what they once did.
If you’re not using Linkedin to prospect for new business, especially here in Charlotte, you are missing appointments and wasting time.
With Linkedin your number of first meetings could double and the time spent setting them up, halved. How many meetings with new prospects do you need to have each week?
PS — At this first meeting over coffee: if you invited them to the meeting, ask about them and the things they’ve done as revealed on their Linkedin profile. And do not try to sell them anything.
The secret to referrals is that they occur one person at a time. And the truth is that no matter what label you choose, referral, recommendation, testimonial or introduction, the event is just an introduction – the opportunity for 2 strangers to meet.
Regardless of the incredibly brilliant adjectives used to describe either or both parties, the result will be two strangers meeting for the first time.
But I digress. The stranger issue is not the topic today.
The point today is if we want our connectors to introduce us to a prospect, we need to stop asking for REFERRALS and start asking for a referral.
The secret to a referral is that it occurs one person at a time. Therefore, when speaking with your leads group or your current customers or your next door neighbor, ask not for some, ask for one.
Here are two high quality ways to ask for an introduction :  I would like to meet Bill Gates (or any specific individual). Might you be able to help me meet him?  Recently, I completed a project for John Doe, he is a financial advisor with ABC Advisors (use your most recent or most favorite customer). It was a great experience. If or when you might have the chance, might you introduce me to your Financial Advisor?
The truth is all we can do is introduce. We can add a plethora of positive adjectives and adverbs, but the introduction is NOT going to make your sale.
Too many people speak of “referrals” (plural) as the magic formula to success. But let’s be clear. When we speak in plural, we mean more than one of our connections introducing us. We do not mean one of our connections making several introductions.
Should we ever ask one of our connections for the plural, we are asking too much. Instead, ask for ONE – ONE specific introduction to ONE specific person.
Each week if you ask 2 of your connections to introduce you to ONE person, I’ll bet you’ll get more introductions than ever before.
Who exactly would you like to be introduced to?
You may be an underdog if YOU are your business. And if so, every person you meet is valuable.
Every person you meet is a face and a human being, just as we are to them. We do not want them thinking of us as a number and we should not think so of them.
LinkedIn permits us to remember their face and who they are and where they came from. The LinkedIn profile is a perfect customer management device and it takes us no time to build it and access it. Every person that we meet is important to us and should be part of our customer management network — also known as our LinkedIn connections.
Be defiant; outwit the giant.
When meeting a potential prospect for the first time, be nice, predictable, similar, and seek to be liked, not hired or bought.
If you requested the meeting, it is your meeting and your objective is to allow your guest to feel comfortable and to leave the meeting thinking well of you. The goal is for them to like you and think warmly of you.
As a rule people think well of those they like. We like people for many different reasons, but one simple thing to remember is we like people who are like us; similar to us. This is not always true and not the only reason, but it is a simple and fairly common condition.
Getting to know someone, building a relationship is a matter of discovery and a good question to initiate this journey is, “Where are you from?”
And then, actively listen.
When reading the paper, I skim headlines, sometimes read lead paragraphs and sometimes read the article.
Is this selection process similar to the purchase decision?
The articles I read, like the things I buy, are interesting to me; and ”interesting” is that which is similar (or non-threatening) to what I already think and believe.
I will not read the entire article if it is disagreeable or contrary to my thinking. Reading the full article is akin to buying the product.
May I propose that people buy that which interests them, is similar to them, fits their current mindset and or situation. And people will not buy that which is too far from their current mindset.
People prefer to serve their current position and will not be open to something too different.
This seems congruent with the proposition that people do not like change, big change. Big change is disagreeable or contrary.
But, we all want, or at least have an interest in, better. And so, the change we want is small and gradual.
And so when bringing something to market pay attention to each prospective buyer as the individual they are. Understand their current position because where they are now is most critical to their decision to change (buy your offer.)
Do you know your prospective buyer’s mindset? Your product value remains constant, the difference in the likelihood of sale is the buyer and how close are they to your product value.
That which is for sale is somewhere between near and far from the buyer’s mindset; that which is purchased is near.
I base this proposition on my reading selectivity. I think it a similar decision.
SMALL: A small, very well-defined and identified niche will yield better results than a large and vaguely defined mass market; especially true for we who have very little advertising budget.
Are sales made or are they found? Perhaps both, but if we find better prospects, shouldn’t we make more sales?
SLOW: A sales process that has more steps would be considered slower, right? Adding a meeting to your sales process would take more time — slower.
The case for slower: What do you call someone you have never met?
Stranger. What did your mother tell you about strangers?
Don’t talk to them and for goodness sakes, don’t buy something from them! Thus, the first time we meet a prospect, let’s remove the issue of being a stranger.
Take this first meeting, the entire first meeting, and build rapport and perhaps some trust, so our next meeting can be all about business .
Adding this one step will make your process slower and it will make your next meeting better.
Small and Slow … the way to go … for more sales.
Business owners – we who own and operate – we are 90% of all licensed businesses. We are best served when we serve each other. This magazine is devoted to us. Here we can learn who we are and what we do. It is a brilliant resource for owner operators. Sign up and then meet up. What if, we collaborate more among ourselves?
Fabi Preslar, owner operator of Spark Publications, is inventor, publisher and editor.
First, we need subscribers. It’s free, sign up at b2btribe.com. And then, what if we collaborate more with each other? What if all our suppliers and vendors were our own neighbors? Can we raise the tide to float more boats?
There are many business resources within Mecklenburg county aimed to serve and assist small business owners and operators. If you have not already, you might reach out to these Charlotte resources;learn of their value; connect with them on Linkedin,
Ronnie Evans / SBA Network
Mike McGraw / GoSmallBiz
Bill Franklin / Mindset
Wanda Montano / TAB
David Cauble / Network Charlotte
Jeff Green / Collaborative Ventures
Richard Marcus / Vue Coaching & Sales TRaining
Jeff Wolfberg / CEO Focus
Don Minges / Fractional CFO
Gary Nowicki / Ace of Sales
Dick Timpone / Local Marketing Associates & . . .
Heather Johnson / The Creative Stack
They all bring value and support to Mecklenberg county business owners and they’re all members, I’m pleased to say, of Street Smart Sales Forum.
Business owners – we who own and operate – are 90% of all licensed businesses. What if we collaborated more often among ourselves?
I think this magazine can and will help. Subscribe. Meet each other. Collaborate.
What do you do best?
What have you been officially trained to do?
Are you certified in something?
What degrees do you hold?
At what have you spent 1000 hours learning to do?
The next time someone describes what they do, dare to ask them the above questions.And of course, the next time you start squawking about what you do, be prepared for someone to ask, how so?
How have you acquired your power?
And you have. You’ve earned the right to be bold and brave. You do have the background, experience and training.
Stand tall and let’s do what we do best. Let’s be super-specific about that which we do. We may be good at several things and things closely related to what we do best. But that which we do truly best, that is our super-power.
And it solves a specific problem for a specific market segment.