I’ve been in this business for a long time. Despite all my years of hard work, a day came where I realized I was not making money. I still was not getting ahead.
I found myself losing every single proposal. In the off chance that I won one, I ended up cutting prices to get it. I lost money on every job I did get, and even then, they weren’t my ideal clients. I had no idea how to value my services and products, so I often cut my prices to win the job.
I was spending 60 hours (sometimes more) building websites for $2,000 – $3,000. I had horrible clients and soul-crushing projects. I felt stuck.
I knew I needed to figure out how to sell better if I was going to stay in business. Once I realized I needed to create more value for my clients, I set out to create a better system.
The key was in taking more time to uncover clients’ real needs.
Identifying the Problem
The process of figuring out what a client really needs (opposed to what they think they want) is called discovery. My discovery process used to go like this:
Meet with the client for an hour (maybe more). Try to get as much info possible. Leave the meeting guessing what the client’s needs were. Lower my prices to win the job. Send a proposal right after the meeting. Constantly call the client to ask about the proposal.
Typically, I’d lose the job. And it’s no wonder.
The reason I couldn’t sell high-value websites is because I didn’t know how to do discovery properly.
Good discovery takes time, allowing you to pinpoint a custom marketing strategy for your client. Make sure you listen to their needs, understand them, and present solutions that not only solve their problems but bring them results. By doing that, you can offer them what they actually need instead of what they think they need.
Instead of proposing a website with no strategy, discovery done right allows you to understand a client’s real needs and then solve problems they didn’t know they had. In short, you deliver more value and they are willing to pay much more for your solution.
Ask Better Questions
Changing our processes – really learning how to do discovery and then setting up a system for it – made a huge change in the way I sell my services and products.
You should go through discovery asking a number of things. Among them should be:
- What is the client currently doing, what is working, and what is not working?
- What’s the strategy we’re going to develop for this one client?
- How can we customize it to allow them to serve their target client better?
- What content will it include?
- Who is the audience?
- How are we going to drive traffic?
- Where are we driving traffic to?
Your job is to develop a specific plan that resolves your client’s specific problems (usually it’s some form of selling more). These are the kinds of questions that help you deliver the same work for more money because the client actually understands what they are getting. Be sure to put it all in terms that make sense to them and they’ll think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.
You get their attention when you take the time to learn about their company and present them with effective solutions for their issues. When you do this, clients are willing to pay you more, even if it’s not in their initial budget.
Last year, my husband and I were going to sell our house and close our business.
By doing better discovery, by asking deeper, better questions and taking our time to learn about our client’s needs, I began to show them where their blind spots were, helped provide solutions to overcome them, and solved problems they didn’t even know they had. In the long run, I wasn’t spending any more time than I was before, but I was doubling and tripling my previous prices.
Instead of cutting costs to win jobs, I’ve learned how to use the discovery process to create custom marketing strategies with clients, instead of guessing at what they need.
My business has been transformed. We stand to make as much in the next few months as we made all of last year. This strategy works. When you figure it out, when you ask the right questions, it will change your business. And your life.
What’s the most important question you ask potential clients? How do you get to the heart of their needs? Leave a comment below to share you ideas.