A lot of figuring out business for me seems to come down to asking questions and then understanding the right answer and using it to drive decision-making.
And a lot of times, the questions themselves seems pretty simple at first pass. Like the one in the title.
What does your customer really want?
Seems like it should be obvious, right? But it isn’t always. At least not if you really stop and think about it.
Take our business for example. People hire us to do bookkeeping.
So they must want bookkeeping, right?
Well, yes and no. They want bookkeeping. But what they really want is for us to take a painful and tedious and boring task off their to-do list. They also want to know exactly where their business stands in terms of profit and loss, but they very often aren’t sure how to get that.
And they generally don’t want to admit that they don’t know how to do it because people often say “bookkeeping isn’t hard” or bookkeeping isn’t rocket science so they feel like they should understand it and know how to interpret the results themselves without asking questions that might make them sound stupid.
So people hire us for bookkeeping, but what they really want is:
- To not have to do it themselves
- To not have to worry that it is getting done
- To have it explained to them in a way that shows them everything they need to know without assuming they know more than they do about how it works
- To feel good about not overpaying for something that seems like an indulgence to pay for if everyone has led you to believe it’s easy to do yourself
- To feel like the person they are working with is taking their business as seriously as they do
If they didn’t understand that’s what we’re really selling, it would make the chances of us delivering that much less likely.
Here’s another way to think about it – ask yourself not what is your customer buying from you (the thing) but rather what outcome is your customer hoping to get from you?
How to Sell Your Customers Outcomes Not Products or Services
This is really what you should be thinking about when you think about what your business offers and what you sell.
If you are a landscape designer – does your customer care about how you move rocks and plants around – even if that’s how you spend 90% of your time that they are paying you for? No. What they are paying for is the idea of having a beautiful yard to look out at when they are home. As a bonus, it wouldn’t hurt if the beauty of their yard drew appreciation and compliments from the neighbors (and maybe an undercurrent of jealousy?).
If you are a hairdresser – does your customer care about exactly what technique you use for applying hair dye or which scissors you select to trim off a few inches? No. You are selling the outcome of looking great and feeling good about the new hairstyle they just got.
I could go on and on with examples. But hopefully, you get the idea. Customers are buying the outcomes they are hoping for when they pay money for services or products, not so much for the thing itself.
So when you think about marketing your business and think about how you get your customers interested and ready to buy, you want to talk about the outcomes they will get and the feelings those outcomes will create more so than the actual thing you are selling them to get them there.
If you aren’t sure what that is or how you are delivering it with what you are offering, then step back and figure it out.
Once you do and can speak to what your customer really wants you’ll be way ahead of the game and much better able to then figure out how to grow your business and how to enhance what you offer to do an even better job of delivering those amazing outcomes.