Last week I shared a simple, quick and effective way to figure out where your ideal clients are hanging out so that you can get in front of ’em, learn more about ’em and attract more of ’em.

This week we’re diving into the best questions to ask when you’re talking with your potential customers and clients – or, in fancy language – doing market research.

Now I know this isn’t a super sexy topic.

You want to learn about how to write a sales page, how to make more money, how to build the perfect program.

I get it. But here’s the thing – none of that will be as effective if you don’t already do this initial work first.

You need to know your potential clients inside and out in order to write an effective sales page, make more money, and build a perfect program.

This means that you’re not guessing what they’re going through. You actually know. And you’re going to figure it out by having lots of conversations with them.

Now, before I go any further I know that if you’re naturally more introverted (like me) this probably makes you a little (or a lot) squeamish. I hear ya. But I want you to keep your eye on the prize. You’re building your business for a very particular reason – to have the financial and time freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want; to be able to spend your days with your kids instead of putting them in daycare; to take your whole family on a much needed vacation and not have to worry about going into massive credit card debt to do it.

Whatever your reason for doing this I want you to keep that in mind because that will help you push through the uncomfortableness of reaching out to people and having these conversations.

How to find people in the first place…

There are two strategies I’ve used to actually find potential clients – keep in mind that you want to ask people who are actually in your target market and could actually be potential clients. Don’t ask just anyone. That defeats the purpose. You want to know your potential clients, not just any Joe Schmo.

The first strategy is to use connections you already have.

Even if you just know one person who you want to ask, chances are they have a friend (or two, or three) who are in the same boat as them. Don’t be afraid to ask. In my experience people (especially people who are awesome people because they’re ideal clients) want to help out. It won’t hurt to ask.

The second strategy you can use is to send out a survey to people on your email list or in online communities you’re a part of and use that as a gateway into learning more.

You can ask some basic questions and then at the end say, “Would you be up for chatting with me more about this? If so, please leave your email address.” That way you can follow-up with the people who leave you their email address and have an actual conversation where you’ll get much deeper answers.

What to ask…

Now, let’s dive into the specific questions you should ask to get the most out of this.

Some of these questions were inspired by this post over at Customer Development Labs. I came across it while I was doing my own research and it really helped me ask non-leading questions.

Why do you want to ask non-leading questions? Well, because you want to make sure that your idea is something that people will actually pay for.

Say, for example, you want to write an ebook on how to get into juicing if you’ve never juiced before. If you go around and ask people, “Would you buy an ebook that teaches you about juicing?” a lot of people will probably say, “Sure!” Especially if they don’t want to hurt your feelings by saying no. This isn’t a good thing. We want to actually test out the validity of our ideas and know – without a shadow of a doubt – that when we put the time and effort into creating something, people will actually buy it.

So, you want to be a bit more broad and vague with your questioning so you can get a feel for what people actually want and need, instead of assuming you already know and just asking questions that make you think you’re right when that actually might not be the best direction to head in.

Here are the 5 basic questions you can use to get into the minds of your potential clients…

1. What’s the hardest part about ____(problem)_____?

Now you want to be careful with what you put in the blank space. Remember, you don’t want to lead people on. For example, these past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of research on what people struggle with in terms of writing for their business.

I had an idea of a direction I wanted to go in but by asking non-leading questions I realized that there’s a huge pain-point that people have that I wasn’t even considering.

If I had asked, for example, “What’s the hardest part about writing your sales page?” I would have missed this amazing insight. So, by asking, “What’s the hardest part about writing for your business?” – a broader question that gives people the opportunity to talk about what’s most important to them – I got some answers I wasn’t expecting but totally welcomed because it’s obviously something people need help with (and I’d love to help them with it!)

So keep this in mind as you’re crafting this question. Be as specific as you can without being leading.

Here are some other examples of the right and wrong way to ask this question…

Example #1 – Say you’re thinking of creating an app that reminds people to drink more water:

Wrong way: “What’s the hardest part about remembering to drink water?” – With this question you’re already assuming people are forgetting to drink water while there might actually be a bigger problem that stops them from getting enough water – they don’t like the taste of water, they haven’t found a water bottle they like, their job makes it tough to drink water throughout the day…

Right way: “What’s the hardest part about staying hydrated?” – It’s a subtle difference but with this second option you aren’t making any assumptions about why the problem is so hard for them.

Example #2 – Say you want to create a program that helps women lose the last 10lbs of pregnancy weight:

Wrong way: “What’s the hardest part about losing the last 10lbs of pregnancy weight?” – This is way too specific and won’t help you discover whether your idea is actually the best choice or whether another direction is better.

Right way: “What’s the hardest part about losing weight after pregnancy?” – This is more broad and allows the person to explore what is toughest for them without you assuming you already know. Who knows? You might find out that it’s not the last 10lbs that are the hardest but the first 10lbs – actually getting started – that women struggle with the most

So, remember to focus on asking non-leading questions and be open to the fact that your idea might not be that big of an issue for people and that’s okay – in fact, that’s awesome! You just saved yourself a ton of time and effort building something that people don’t actually want. And now you have some ideas on what people actually want so you’ll be that much more successful in the long-run.

2. Tell me about one of the last times you were struggling with this. What happened? How did you feel?

You want to dive deeper into what this is like for them. What’s it costing them? How is it affecting their life?

Absolutely go ahead and ask lots of follow-up questions after you ask this question because the more times you ask, “Why” or say, “Tell me more” the better and deeper insight you’ll get.

Remember, the whole point of this is to get to the point where you know your ideal clients even better than they know themselves.

3. Why do you think it’s so hard?

This is a great question because it gets them to focus on how it’s negatively affecting them and why they want that problem solved. It’ll also give you some great insight into how much this is truly a burning pain – something they want/need to get rid of ASAP – or more of a dull ache – something they’re not super worried about tackling right now.

Focus on the language they use. Are they saying, “I don’t feel very self-confident in myself”. Or are they saying, “It’s hard because I don’t feel comfortable taking my clothes off in front of my husband anymore. I used to feel sexy but now sex feels awkward. I’m always worried about whether he’s grossed out by how flabby I am.”

There’s a big difference. The second one goes much deeper into the pain of the problem and that’s what we want to know. We want to know how it’s affecting our clients so that we can support them in the best way possible by letting them know that we know exactly what they’re going through and we have the perfect solution for them.

4. What, if anything have you done to try to solve __(problem)__?

This will give you some insight into what they’ve tried – that may or may not have worked for them. This is especially useful if they talk about products and services they’ve bought because if they’ve bought something to try to solve a particular problem there are probably other people who would spend money on that solution too.

So, you can learn more about how motivated they are to actually rid themselves of the problem – would they pay for a solution? Yes? No? Why? Why not?

5. What doesn’t float your boat about the solutions you’ve tried?

Regardless whether they tried something for free, or paid for something you want to know what they liked and didn’t like about the experience.

For example, say they tell you, “I didn’t like the group coaching calls because my questions never got answered and I wished I had more time to spend focusing on my stuff instead of everyone else’s.” That’s good information to have. That tells you that they probably want more one-on-one support.

Or say they tell you, “I bought it and then it just sat in the box for 2 months before I even took it out. I kept meaning to use it but I just didn’t get around to it for so long.” That probably means that they’d find some follow-up support helpful. Someone or something to help keep them accountable.

Pay attention to what people are complaining about. That’s gold for ensuring you create an offering that really delivers.

Don’t worry about breaking things…

As you dive in to learn more about your potential clients I want you to remember that there really aren’t any rules – just guidelines. Play around with this. Ask whatever questions you think will help you out the most, don’t worry about breaking anything.

The good news is there isn’t any pressure on you because you aren’t there to sell anything. You’re simply there to listen.

Tell me in the comments below…

  • Have you ever done market research like this? What surprised you the most?
  • What other questions have you found helpful when you’re talking with your potential clients?
  • If you’ve never done this, when are you going to set some time aside to give it a try? (Remember, scheduling it in makes it more likely it’ll actually happen!)

I can’t wait to hear what great insights you’re getting!

Lots of love,

My-Blog-Signature (1)


Did you enjoy this? If so, please share it so others can enjoy the goodness too…