Don't Ask Jeeves, Ask Your Customers!

It's that time of the year when we spend hours walking around shops or searching the internet for the perfect gift ...

We may ask the intended recipient what they would like for Christmas to ensure that we make the right match. The reward for all this effort? Seeing smiling faces and creating a magical experience.

"So, why don't we always give that level of attention and thought to our potential customers for our businesses?"

However good your product or service, the simple truth is that no-one will buy it if they don't want or need it. And you won't persuade anyone to buy from you unless you clearly understand what they really want, need and expect.

Most people in business never stop to ask their customers what they really want, need and expect. It costs nothing to ask and can be done quickly and easily. Proving or eliminating assumptions you have made can instantly boost your sales and profits.

A common mistake is to decide for your customers what they want, need and expect, without first talking to them about it or without doing your research.

So, ask your existing customers what made them buy from you. Ask them what outcome or outcomes they were looking for when they approached you in the first place. Ideally, you need to prepare a minimum of 10 questions to ask, but make sure you give thought to what you're asking.

What is the best way to ask these questions? When I'm asked this, my response is invariably the same: it depends on you, your business and what resources you have.

  1. Call them - ask them before launching into your questions and explain what you're trying to do. You want them to want to help so schedule a time to this with them.
  2. Send out a questionnaire - maybe with a reward/gift of some kind.
  3. Online survey - ask your customers to respond to an easy to use survey and get valuable insights in a matter of minutes.
  4. Meet for lunch/coffee - This is time intensive, but could be invaluable. It's also an opportunity to develop your business relationships.

My top tips for getting the answers you need:

  1. Make sure you take the time over the questions you want the answers to. There's no point asking them something that has no relevance. Seems obvious, right? Well, I've been on the receiving end of many surveys and have been asked the most pointless questions. I'm sure you have been too.
  2. For each question you ask, what is the action that you will take from it? Will it be a marketing action or a business process action? Write it down and plan!
  3. Select the customers that you think will be the most receptive and ask them for their help. Don't just assume they will give it.
  4. Use this information - don't just sit on it!

The answers will help you to understand, identify and most importantly determine and address the real needs of your prospects and customers. You will understand what motivates them to act. You can then focus more accurately on the key issues behind their buying decisions and their hopes, dreams, fears, and desires.

The research will give you a much clearer insight into what the key issues behind your customer's buying decisions are. You will be able to identify what their real needs are. You will be more aligned with what your future customers are looking for and therefore be able to target your marketing more effectively.


If you're interested in coaching for your small business, do call me on 07521 790284 or leave a comment below and let's arrange a free consultation.