One of the significant challenges for new coaches and consultants is to REALLY know their ideal client. Really know what their hopes, dreams, problems, and challenges are. Because only then can valuable solutions be provided.
The truth in this statement is obvious:
“You can only successfully sell what people want to buy….”
The thing is that we, as coaches and consultants, can have all these fantastic solutions. But if the solutions are not solving the problems of our ideal clients, then it will not translate into the cash flow we desire to run a sustainable business.
In this article, I share answers from a survey I did and give you a step-by-step method you can use to discover your ideal client’s problems.
First, let me illustrate this step-by-step process by giving you an example of my journey of discovery. And how I got surprised in the process.
Finding the HOT TOPIC
I was standing in front of my whiteboard with the marker in my hand. I was thinking about how to create the ideal angle for my new online course. An angle that would really hit a major need. An angle that would allow me to use my skills and expertise as an accomplished content writer and learning expert. Help solve a pressing problem for my ideal clients.
I had read through pages after pages of suggestions on choosing a hot topic for my course. I watched videos with successful course creators.
Suddenly one suggestion jumped right out of a page I had just been reading.
The page told a story about a course creator who had made $30.000 in a single month after she launched her new online course. I thought that was amazing! Talk about generating revenue!
Because she had been so successful, the experts at the learning platform had asked her to reveal her secret.
As I read her secret, I had an AHA moment. 💡
The key to her success was to ask amongst her clients what their most urgent challenges were.
Suddenly the voice from my MBA instructor came into my mind. “Make surveys to test your assumptions!” 🔎
Funny how a single phrase can spur a chain reaction in the brain. It was like a ray of sunshine suddenly broke through the clouds.
“Of course! I need to ask questions to narrow down the huge number of challenges related to starting a new business.”
I wrote this question on top of my whiteboard:
“What is your biggest professional challenge at the moment?”
I sat down at my desk and wrote the same question. I copied the question to 10 of my most recent connections and hit send.
Soon the answers started to tick in.
Funny you ask
“Funny, you ask. I was just discussing this issue this morning. As far as we know, nobody offers the services and programs we do. When people hear of what we do, they think it’s great and much needed. The problem is that nobody knows that anybody offers what we do, so they don’t know to contact us for the help they need.”
“Building a website.
” My greatest challenge when I started my leadership development business was learning how to market myself effectively.”
” At first, it was client acquisition.”
” Change everything and take the risk.”
” Finding new clients.”
” I had to recognize customer (client) challenges that were meaningful to them, then to offer some new insights on how to address them.”
The answers from my connections basically touched on problems in 3 different areas:
- Creating value content
- Getting clients
- Take risks
I was wondering if these 3 hot topics would resonate with a larger audience.
Time to do a poll
The lessons from my MBA reentered my mind. It was the same process I had been doing in numerous case studies with clients.
The answers to my questions had given me some indicators. Now it was time to test and validate these problem areas.
The next step was to create a poll on LinkedIn about the most significant challenges entrepreneurs face in building their businesses.
The poll got a lot of views. And the votes verified that the number one challenge for new business owners and entrepreneurs is to get clients. Creating value content and taking risks share the second place.
That was not so surprising. But wait!
I told you I was surprised…
What surprised me in the data collection process was some of the excellent answers I received. Responses that far exceeded my expectations. And people’s willingness to share their experience in overcoming the challenges they had when they were new in the business.
“Growth. Growing was the challenge; our VC money came from my Visa Card, and we needed customer revenue to fund staff work, and we needed staff to do the customer work excellently. It’s a balancing game — my advice is to under-extend yourself (not over) and push yourself and a small team to do bigger projects, growing only when you must. This makes for a leaner, more productive team — and when compensated properly, a loyal and effective one. My biggest advice is this; Don’t wait any longer. If you know you can do it, get your butt in gear and do it; don’t let fear of failure prevent the thrill of success.”– Mike Wolpert, Video Strategist, Story Producer, Local Marketing Expert, and Co-Founder @ Social Jumpstart
Get your butt in gear and do it
Don’t let fear of failure prevent the thrill of success.
That answer hit home with me.
Another advice that was very inspiring 3 questions to ask oneself that I received from Dave Ulrich, Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and a partner at the RBL Group:
- What do I want? If you don’t know what you want, someone else will likely decide for you, often not in your interest. What we want depends on passions, interests, strengths, values, and opportunities.
- Whom do I serve? Leaders who give back get back more. Work to help others on their journey.
- How do I build? Institutionalizing ideas means working with others to create a culture or organization that outlives me.
Suddenly the answer to the problem of how to identify your ideal client’s problem was clear as a bell.
I got up from my chair. I picked up my marker and wrote on my whiteboard under BIG IDEA:
“Ask, and you will find”
I had gotten so much valuable information simply by asking this very simple question: “What is your biggest professional challenge at the moment?”
At the same time, the solution to my problem of finding an angle for my online course was also becoming crystal clear. I could see how I could solve my ideal client’s problems of creating valuable content and boosting client flow. I could teach them how to write great content on their own. Share all my experience in teaching writing, writing articles and web content, publishing books, creating curriculums, leading educational institutions, and being a learning expert. What a relief!
I had found my answer to Dave Ulrich’s nr. 1 question:
What do I want?Dave Ulrich, Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and a partner at the RBL Group.
That question helped clarify my unique solution to my ideal client’s identified problem. My cutting edge had become clear. I put all my energy into getting my new online course ready for launch.
My discovery process, as described above, really helped me get a clear picture of my ideal client’s challenges. But even more importantly, it helped me see in what areas I could help bridge the gap for my clients. And in what areas do I need to refer to other experts to help my clients out.
I really recommend you do this research process for yourself. Experience the thrill of finding answers about your client’s real challenges. And how you can be a valuable piece of their puzzle.
The step-by-step method
The step-by-step method is illustrated in my story above. The goal is to ask and find answers about your ideal client’s problems. The 3 main steps of the research process are:
- Do qualitative research: Ask a simple question in your network of ideal clients like what is your biggest professional challenge at the moment?
- Do quantitative research: Analyze the answers and find patterns. Test your assumptions by doing a survey or creating a poll.
- Analyze – seek and find practical wisdom to inspire and bring new insights: Extract findings and unexpected pearls of practical wisdom. Share value to help you and your clients grow and learn.
Once you have gone through this step-by-step process, your solution will become clear. Because once you really KNOW your client’s problems. Rather than THINK, you know. You will be much wiser on your ideal client’s REAL issues. AND your unique solution to those you want to serve will become clear. You will be able to come up with great solutions. Solutions where you get to use your unique skill set, experience, strength, and passion for helping others on their journey. AND build a strong community in the process.
May the client flow be with you!
Are interested in getting help writing great content for social media to generate more leads? Check out my course How To Write Great Copy People Love To Read
Sophie Higgins – MA, MBA, MBC: I help experts create meaningful online courses with real impact. An online course should be a well-crafted, inspirational, and empowering learning experience. So, your unique wisdom can make a real difference in the learners’ life AND allow you to live the life of your dreams.