I’ve emphasized making direct contact with people several times over the past few weeks in posts like Answer a Question on a Forum and Send a Note to a Person You Admire. Today’s post presents another suggestion for building these relationships. Hopefully, you’ve already begun connecting with your target market via in-person groups as suggested in last week’s post on joining a local Meetup or other organization.
Today’s Action Step: Invite someone in your target market out to coffee or lunch.
This is not a sales meeting – treat this as an hour or two with a valued friend. If you want a bond with trust and warmth, the kind of strong business connection that builds a solid foundation, this is how you need to be oriented towards your clients and customers. This is how you become a trusted advisor who cannot be touched by your competitors.
The benefit here is nurturing a relationship and gaining a better understanding of the type of people who are your customers. You may slip in a research question or two, if it feels like a natural part of conversation. But it shouldn’t be a focus group. Let them talk about what they want to talk about.
Questions to Ask and What to Look For
1. Pay close attention whenever potential customers talk about a dissatisfaction in their lives, especially if it’s one that you can solve. But be sure to listen closely and gather details before you offer a solution.
2. Note what topics make your customers light up. What matters to them? What’s new and exciting in their lives?
3. If your business is B2B, encourage people to talk about the work that they do. What drew them to their industry? What’s a typical day like for them? What’s their biggest challenge?
4. Be curious about what customers wish for and what possibilities they see. Even if their ideas and wants are unrealistic, this gives you clues about how they see the world and their assumptions.