How to increase your sales with one simple question
I have a question for you: what do you want me to provide?
It’s perhaps one of the simplest questions in the world but one that so many of us forget to ask our customers. But taking the time to ask people what you can do to help them can save you a fortune, stop you wasting time and actually make you money.
Let’s imagine you’re a shopkeeper who keeps stocking baked beans when nobody ever buys them and nobody has ever asked for them. Would you keep stocking them? From where I’m sitting, that doesn’t seem like a good strategy for making money.
It’s vital for business owners or service providers to understand what their audience wants, and often the only way to really know, is to talk to them.
As well as asking potential customers what they want, it is also beneficial to ask them why they don’t want something. Why don’t people like baked beans any more? You may discover that there is just one small aspect that can be changed – such as a different brand of baked bean, or a low sugar version – that could make a huge difference to people‘s purchasing decisions.
The easiest way to ask:
- Pick up the phone and call people
- Send an email and add a ‘click here’ link to show you are interested
- Send a direct message on a social media platform
- Put out a poll in your Facebook group or page
When it comes to what to say, keep it simple. Just be honest and ask people for their help to improve your product line or service provision.
Ask what would influence them to purchase this product or service and whether there is anything you could add or change that would influence their decision.
Be open to receiving the answers
The important thing is to be really open to constructive criticism. You can’t take negative feedback personally – if you do, you’re not really learning from the experience.
In every business, there will always be ideas that need massive changes and some that have to be shelved completely – just look at Richard Branson and his range of services, Virgin Cola, Virgin Brides or Virgin Cars. Branson talks openly about the successes and failures of his start-ups and what he learnt from the experiences here https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/lessons-my-toughest-start-days
What to do now you have the information
Analyse the responses you received – what really stands out to you? What are people asking for? Have you been missing something really obvious? You may discover it’s something you can solve, such as the price or the timing of an event, that has been holding people back. Or you may discover that, as in Branson’s case, people are more interested in a different growth area than what you are offering.
The main thing is to be really honest with yourself. You cannot force people to buy what they don’t want even, if you feel it’s an excellent idea or something that they really need!
This was brought home to me when I developed a one-day Marketing Mastermind class for Simply Marketing. It got very little interest so I asked why? It turned out that people couldn't take a whole day out for the course. Also, they didn’t necessarily want a quick fix, they preferred to have shorter sessions over a longer period. This led to me developing my Mastermind 5-week programme which has been hugely popular.
Start to map the next steps
Ask yourself what should the revised product or service now look like? What is it you can provide that will satisfy people’s needs and how can you best deliver it? Do you need to make small adjustments or radically change an existing product? Do you need to make an entirely new product?
At this point, I would use a mind map only because this is my way of working.
Some people prefer planners or spreadsheets, but the main thing is to write everything down in a format you can understand. Use it to develop ideas, timelines and budgets. Once you see it all there in black and white, broken down into stages, you can start to move forward again.
Just by asking that one simple question – ‘what do you want me to provide’ – could lead to new and exciting developments for your business and, ultimately, an increase in sales!
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