The biggest challenge to anyone in business is doing an individual project and then another and then another. The problem with this is your reinventing the wheel every time you start a new engagement. I call this doing one offs and it costs you lots of money and hurts your profits.
Instead, think about this…..Have a process where you are doing the same thing but coming up with individual solutions. This will give both you and your customer a wonderful track to run on.
Ask yourself how big is the problem you’re solving.
We have a discovery process called The Objective Review. This process is long and involved. That’s because when I work with a business owner I’m looking to solve some big problems that have a big pay off.
I’m also a generalist that is able to quickly and easily dive deeply into a variety of high value areas with a client. Because I add tons of value in a variety of areas my discovery process is relatively long (one and a half days) and very in-depth.
The problem you solve with your customers might be a lot simpler. Your specialty could be hiring, it might be doing tax work, it might be drafting buy/sell agreements or manufacturing a simple product. If you are doing this type of work having a long and involved discovery process won’t get your anywhere.
Make sure you match your discovery or intake process to the type and size problems and or opportunities your customer is likely having.
What will help you answer this question?
The most important question you need to answer is why. As Simon Sinek likes to say, “Start with why.” It’s really the key question you need to answer if you want to quickly get to the bottom of the challenge your customer is having.
You’ll want to get a good answer to why a customer wants to work with you. You want to really understand why they need you to help solve their problem.
The key here is to not assume that you know the answer. When you make this type of assumption more often than not, you’re going to get it wrong. Not completely wrong, just enough that your customer might not come back again. I hope you know how important repeat business is to your success.
Develop one part of your process at a time.
I’m a big fan of fail fast/fail cheap. This means that when you develop one small part of your discovery process at a time, you’re more likely to get it right. You’ll have a minimally viable product that you can test. If it works, keep it. If not, let it go.
For many, having just one part of a discovery process will be enough. If you’re like me and you can and often do deliver a very different product you’re going to need a more complicated method of discovering what’s important and will make you customer’s life better.
I started developing our Objective Review process over ten years ago. If you looked at the product today, it would completely different from what I had ten years ago. At the same time, I didn’t immediately start with a day and a half process. Our original Objective Review only took two hours. I added extra parts because we needed a more robust discovery system to truly service our clients…..and The Objective Review has become a really valuable product all by itself.
Test to see if you are getting the result you want.
This fits in with doing one thing at a time. If you try to test two or more things at once, you never can be sure which one worked. Testing one thing at a time allows you to see if what you’re bringing to market is something your customers value.
You might at first think this will slow your development project. Actually, the answer is just the opposite. When you test only one thing at a time you’re going to move faster than trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Make sure to remember many of your customers are going to be control freaks.
I’m not trying to throw rocks at your customers. The fact is successful business owners became successful because they usually have a pretty wide span of control. The more control you give your potential business owner client, the more successful you’re likely to be.
This isn’t your game, it’s theirs. If you remember this then the process you develop will squarely put your potential customer in charge. Remember this and you’ll have less pain as you go along.
Here’s your next step.
Here are three things I want you to do right after you read this post.
- Write down what the problem is that you are trying to solve with your customers.
- Come up with one process you can use to help your customer discover whether you’re the right supplier for them.
- Test the process and see if it works.
As the old Head and Shoulder’s ad says, wash, rinse repeat. If you do this, before long you’ll have a process your customers and you love.