Linda felt like she had reached a plateau in her cleaning business. For the past 3 years, she'd run the same ads in the same publications with the same results. She would generate enough new clients to make up for the ones she lost due to normal attrition, but she was never quite able to get beyond her mediocre success.
"I feel a little stuck," she shared in our last call. "Every time I try running another ad or sending another mailer, I only generate enough new work to make up for the additional cost I've expended. I can't hire an additional employee until I get more work, but I can't seem to get more work. I really want to make more income for myself and my family and think I could do it if I could just get some of these new marketing strategies to work out."
My next question threw her -- "What are you selling?" "What do you mean? I'm selling cleaning services," she responded. "No, what are you REALLY selling? Or look at it this way, what are your clients buying?"
It took a couple more rounds before she understood what I meant. Many service business owners run out to the marketplace without a clear understanding of what they are selling or what their clients are buying. After awhile, they start getting clients by the shear fact that they've approached enough people to generate some interest. The problem comes once they've reached a plateau and can't seem to grow beyond it.
It's like golf. Anyone can learn to hit the ball and, if given enough strokes, get it in the hole. They can even become pretty good ... but only sometimes. The rest of the time, they are hooking or slicing uncontrollably. They never play a consistent game. The key to success in golf is technique. If you do the right things consistently, you'll play a good game every time (well, almost!).
In business, it's the same thing - you need to do the right things consistently. Almost anyone can learn how to make a sale. It might not be in record speed or at a profit, but they can make the sale. The key is in being able to generate sales consistently up to and beyond your plateau.
Linda thought she was selling cleaning services, but upon closer investigation over the next couple of weeks, she learned that her clients were buying something a lot different. Based on surveys she conducted with her current clients, she learned that they hired her because they were buying:
- more time to spend with their spouse & children
- a clean house (not actual the actual "cleaning" service)
- time for themselves & their personal interests
- stress relief for taking one thing off of their plate
- marital bliss (no more fighting over household responsibilities)
This was a light bulb moment for her. She realized that her ads and mailers were selling a "cleaning service" when in actuality her prospects and clients wanted to buy a solution to their problems - not enough time, fights with their spouse, harried lifestyle. If she could provide the solution to just one of those pains, she would be serving her clients well.
Then quicko, chango, switcheroo - she re-focused her marketing efforts to focus on solving her prospects' problems and began targeting overworked professionals and families with children. These simple changes helped her finally grow beyond the plateau where her business had stalled.
So, ask yourself -- are your clients buying what you're selling? What are you currently selling? If you contacted your clients this week, what would they say they are buying from you? Are you sure? Why not jot down a few questions that you can ask your clients during short, phone surveys this week?
Don't have enough clients to do this yet? Perhaps you can work it into your conversations with prospects? Ask them why your service does or does not sound like something that will benefit them. Yes, I know this is hard, but the answers are your ticket to faster success.
Afraid to do this? Then it's even more important! Trying to sell the wrong thing to the wrong people is just extending your learning curve and the length of your journey to sustainable success. So go for it!
About the author
Kimberly Stevens is the author of the ebook series, *The Profitable Business Owner: A Step-by-Step System for Starting & Running a Successful Service Business*. Download Sample Chapters & get her free MiniCourse, *The 10 Most Common Mistakes Business Owners Make & How To Avoid Them* at: http://www.askthebizcoach.com/ebooks.htm
By: Kimberly Stevens