It’s not so much figuring out the best question that’s hard. It’s figuring out what to do with the answer.
I get asked a lot about what are good questions for prospects or customers. I can give you a bunch and in just a couple of clicks you can find thousands of reputable authors, sales gurus and websites that’ll give you a whole bunch more questions to ponder for your customer contacts.
But what is the best question? I’ve finally settled on one now. This one question makes so much darn sense on many levels. And as good as it is, remember it’s what you do with the answer that really counts.
Before I share it though, let’s think first about the audience you want to ask this question of. The audience here is small business; a group loaded with owners, type A’s, entrepreneurs, competitive personalities or all of the above. The audience is full of people who are proud, smart, have healthy egos and who live and breathe their businesses.
So the best question should be one that is grooved right down the center of the proverbial small business plate, look very appealing and inspire a big ol’ swing.
“What sets your business apart from the competition?”
Yep. That’s it.
Simple but powerful for two reasons:
- First, it gives your fiercely proud small business person the chance to take a swing and share what they believe is perhaps the single thing that makes them different, or superior than anyone they compete against. It allows for passionate rant or a perfunctory punch of an attribute, positioning, feature, service, history or benefit that they think is killer or outstanding about their business. That’s cool.
- Second it gives you a chance to do the hard part, which is to listen and analyze the answer. It’s a beautiful window to the entrepreneurial soul. You must use that learning to position you or your products in an appropriate way as you continue that conversation then, or at a later time, with the small business person.
You see the answer to the question is vital. It is what the small business person thinks is importantly different about their business and is likely what they value in partners and suppliers as well. When you know what is important to them about them, you can position you, your company or your products in a similar light that will at the very least, get further attention and most likely move the sales process forward at lightning speed. And if by chance your product or solution helps that business maintain or attain that thing that sets them apart, you’re in.
If the small business person thinks their “50 years in business” is the competitive differentiator then you have to consider that perhaps sharing your long personal tenure in the industry or the healthy company track record you have is a big deal for them when they consider working more with someone like you. For them; being credible is important.
If the small business person thinks that having a “one stop shop” is a big deal setting them apart from the competition then you know that you have to consider positioning your services as being “easy to use” or “comprehensive and easy to access” because it’s very likely that that is something the small business owner wants out of a supplier or partner.
If the answer to “ What sets you apart from the competition?” is about “our low pricing”, or “the highest quality”, or “the most customers”, or “ our product breadth” or a dozen others then you have a colossal hint at what the buying motives just might be when they consider doing more business with you.
Pitch the question. I believe it’s the best one out there and small business will hit it hard; just don’t drop the ball; do something with it.
P.S. If some of you are thinking this is a great question for the C-Suite. You’re right; similar personalities sit there too. Have at it.
P.S.S If some of you are thinking Hey Mark, asking that question you need a little trust first don’t you? You’re right about that too. Read up.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.