That sounds totally obvious, doesn’t it? In fact it wouldn’t be right or fair to persuade someone to buy something they didn’t want. So why is it so hard to actually sell what people want?
The first time I sold something was when I went to an agency and told them what I could do, which at that time was training on various software packages. They would then match me up with an organisation that needed that temporarily needed that skill. So yes, I was selling what somebody wanted to buy.
But then I saw how much of my fee was being swallowed up by the agencies and I thought I’d try going direct to businesses instead. I created some course outlines based on what other training companies were offering and…well I didn’t get very far. A few days work here and there but that was about it.
The trouble was I didn’t stop to think about…
- Which problem I was trying to solve for my customers
- That they’d want a specialist rather than a jobbing trainer who did a whole range of courses
- They’d be more likely to hire me if they’d had a chance to get to know me first
- I was trying to second-guess their needs. I could have just asked them instead.
That doesn’t just apply to trainers, by the way. It applies to anyone selling a service or a physical product.
Fast forward a few years and I was putting together my first online training course. Actually it was a downloadable information product called Earn What You Deserve as a Mumpreneur. This time I got to know a community (mums running their own businesses), I listened to their challenges and created an online course to help them solve one of them. Big step forward compared to last time. And yes, I actually sold a good few of them!
But I still wasn’t doing the one thing that would make the biggest difference. To ask questions.
It sounds so simple but so many people don’t do it (yes, me included). Here’s why I think we avoid asking our audience whether they’d like a product before we even create it: