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By asking some ‘Sneaky Questions for the Budding Entrepreneur’, business coach Steve Gardner offers tips on talking about your business without losing clients.

By asking some ‘Sneaky Questions for the Budding Entrepreneur’, business coach Steve Gardner offers some tips on how to talk about your business without losing clients.

Sneaky questions for the budding entrepreneur No. 1: ‘What do you actually do in your business?’

Imagine you are at a party and someone you know but haven’t seen for a couple of years comes up to you and says “Hello, I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you doing now?”

Well, your business brain should be screaming at you:

“Customer alert, customer alert. Opportunity, opportunity!”

If, however, you then twitter on enthusiastically about (for example): 21st century mouse trap technology, a fascinating international symposium you attended recently on rodent psychology, new extermination techniques in the home, and the need for government grants to improve the lot of the business entrepreneur (small mammal specialist), your potential customer’s brain will be screaming at them:

“Idiot alert, idiot alert. Run. Hide. Avoid.”

You have just lost a potential customer and the sad thing is: you didn’t know it.

If, on the other hand, your answer was more along the lines of: “I run a successful business that specialises in killing mice quickly, cleanly and cheaply” the response from your potential customer is more likely to be something like “Whoa! That’s a bit weird but tell me more.” And then you are (or should be) into selling mode.

You need to appreciate that potential customers can get quickly bored with too much excruciating detail.

It is vitally important that you are absolutely crystal clear about what it is that you do in your business. If you are not, there is a strong chance that you will either lose business or you won’t gain it in the first place.

To succeed in business, you’ve got to have a passion for what you do, BUT you need to appreciate that potential customers can get quickly bored with too much excruciating detail.

So, what are some of the solutions to this?

      1. Develop one short, snappy sentence that gives the essence of what you do.
      2. If your potential customer is then interested, give them a little bit of detail.
      3. Then, if necessary, feed the potential customer increasing levels of detail….
      4. Linked closely to their needs….
      5. Break up your information into bite-sized chunks.
      6. Nail your customers’ feet to the floor so they can’t escape.
Sneaky questions for the budding entrepreneur No.2: ‘What business market are you in?’

Parker Pens are not ‘in the pens business’, they are in the luxury gift business. National Express is not ‘in the rail and coach business’, they are in the transport business. Barclays are not ‘in the banking business’. I am not in ‘the coaching and training business’ - I’m in the developing potential and transformation business.

So, what business market are you in? As with defining what you do in your business, it is very important that you understand clearly which market you are operating in. If you do not, there is a strong likelihood that you will waste a lot of time, money and effort targeting the wrong people and trying to sell them something they don’t want.

By understanding which market you are in, you may be able to identify additional business opportunities.

At the risk of extending the mouse example beyond its useful life: if you realise that you are not in the mouse extermination business, but in the pest control business, then you might also offer means to eliminate cockroaches, woodworm and hoodies; or provide means of preventing infestations occurring in the first place.

By understanding which market you are in, you may be able to identify additional business opportunities.
Know Your: Customers

By clearly understanding the business you are in, you will find it easier to identify exactly who your customers are: where they are located, what they do, how they think, where they go and what they actually want from you (rather than what you think they ought to have).

Competitors

By clearly understanding the business you are in, you will find it easier to identify the businesses/people with whom you are competing. And then you will be better positioned to do something about them.

Here are some solutions to consider:

      1. Ask yourself the question: “yes, but which business am I in?” until you are satisfied that you have the market clearly identified.
      2.Then ask the question again.
      3.Take the time to ask some customers what they want from your business.
      4.Listen carefully to the answers, and….
      5.Provide your customers with what they want.

Steve is a highly experienced Coach, Trainer and Business Consultant. He combines an ability to cut through to the essence of a problem with a knack of asking those awkward little questions that make people squirm enough to think differently. Steve is passionate about developing people and organisational potential and has no idea how to administer psychometric tests. Steve.gardner@arbus-black.co.uk

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