Prospect analysis, or knowing what’s important to our prospects when they’re making a buying decision, is critical to becoming marketing driven. “If you want to know why John Smith (or Jane Smith) buys what John Smith buys, you’ve got to see the world through John Smith’s eyes. This seems painfully obvious, but very few businesses do it. Why?
As business owners and experts in our chosen fields, we’re most comfortable when talking about what we do. We’re so immersed in our businesses it’s all we want to talk about. It’s human nature – for most of us our favourite topic is ourselves.
There’s only one problem with talking about ourselves. Your prospect couldn’t care less! Your prospect is only concerned with one thing – do you provide value? Talking about things the prospect isn’t remotely interested in is a monumental waste of time. It does nothing but increase sales cycles and decrease close rates, two outcomes you want to avoid.
If we agree that understanding the prospect better than anyone else does is a key to success, then why are most businesses reluctant to make this happen. The answers we get most often are:
- We don’t know how.
- We’re so busy we don’t have the time.
Let’s address “we don’t know how” first. How do we get an in depth understanding of what’s important to our prospects? The answer: YOU ASK THEM. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Who do you ask? You ask current customers, you ask past customers, you ask prospects, you ask friends and family, you ask people in your network, you ask anyone else that’s willing to give you the time. What do you ask? You ask specific questions about hot buttons, decision making criteria, the information required to make a decision, how the decision is made, where prospects seek information and where they are on the educational spectrum. Our last two newsletters were dedicated to these topics. (You Better Understand Your Prospects Better Than Anybody Else AND Where Are Your Prospects In The Decision Making Cycle?).
The second issue is “we don’t have the time”. Our response to this objection is that you must make time, or you’ll be left behind by competitors who are seriously committed to understanding what’s important to your prospects.
As we stress in virtually every newsletter, you MUST systemize your marketing for it to work. This includes prospect information gathering. How do we systemize this process?
First, you develop an appropriate set of questions that will provide the insight you require.
Secondly, identify logical times or points of interaction when it would be “natural” to gather this information.
As an example, if you do consultations, take the last five minutes to ask prospects what they deem most important in making the buying decision. If you’re a retailer, ask one out of every ten people who make a purchase. If you do seminars or workshops, ask these questions at the end of the event. Thirdly, make sure you’re prepared to ask the questions – either have them in front of you or provide a questionnaire – and that you’re able to document the responses. By doing these things, you will “systematically” gather this information.
Finally, DON’T EVER STOP. Markets don’t stand still. Competitors change, attitudes change, products and services change, demographics change, technology changes…You must continually keep a hand on the pulse of the prospect.
What will you do with this insight? First and foremost you’ll use it to do a better job of creating value. It’ll give you the impetus to change the way you run your business or to refine your product or service offerings to ensure you create unique or superior value. It’s not enough to say you’re better, you truly must be better.
This insight will also allow you to develop a Positioning and Differentiation Strategy to connect with your prospects and to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. By focusing on the prospect, instead of on yourself, your marketing communications will hit the mark. And then prospects will want to pay attention because you’ll be talking to them about their favourite subject.
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