I force them to think about themselves in ways they probably never did before. And it never fails to capture their true essence.
One of my favorite questions to ask is, “If you worked for your competition, how would you sell against us?” Us, of course, is my client.
Try it out with one of your clients. Ask them to imagine what their competition might tell a prospect about them.
Say, “Think like someone who would like to see you fail. Ponder your shortcomings and your competitive disadvantages. Stab yourself in the back.”
The hard part
Business owners love and hate the question.
They like the “exercise” of thinking differently about themselves.
The process … that’s another story. Like being the first person on the dance floor, nobody in the room wants to break the silence. They look at one another, cautiously, as if to say, “You wanna say something nasty about our company?”
Eventually, either someone pipes up, or you have to get out on the dance floor yourself. Give them some general starter ideas, but avoid putting words in their mouths.
Someone will say, “We don’t build everything in-house,” and they quickly add, “but that’s actually an advantage, because –”
Stop them before they can spin the problem. Reassure them it’s okay to leave the bad stuff out there; you’ll go over the “here’s how you would respond” after you’re done tearing the company a new one.
In no time, clients dish out all the dirt they can think of. They’re back to liking the process, gleefully giving their company a black eye.
“We are small.”
“We are the middle man.”
“They have better control over their costs.”
Then, you turn things around: “Why are these things actually your advantages?”
One by one, go over each weakness. The reasons why they are actually strengths will give you powerful differentiators you can use to craft their brand story.
“We don’t build everything in-house,” they’ll say, “but that enables us to source components from the best suppliers and sell a better overall product than our fully integrated peers.”
“We’re small, but that makes us nimble, faster and easier to work with.”
Sometimes, one or two of their negatives can’t be flipped into a positive. That’s equally valuable, as the company feels reinvigorated to make changes for the better. At the very least, you can write around those things to focus on the good.
Put your own business through this exercise. It’s not just fun, it’s eye opening.