I’m trying to be more clear about my offer. This will probably filter out some people that now want to talk to me because they think I’m a student. In order to fine-tune my proposition I will be very conscious about their reasons for rejection.
Making a rejection list
I actually started working on the list last week. I’m writing down every rejection I come across, and am adding a relevant follow-up question to better understand their rejection reasons and of course to gently try and help them understand what I have to offer.
This is my list so far, and my precomposed response:
- Not interested, thanks.
- I’m too busy
Do you know what causes that?
Or: What is taking most of your time?
- We know our bottlenecks ourselves
Perfect. What is your worst?
- I can’t throw that information out in the open
Would you like help with it?
- I already have help from someone else.
Do they advise, or make a solution?
- Why are you doing all this?
So many solutions are made by people who think they themselves know what the problem is or what is needed. I don’t want to work that way, because I believe only by listening carefully you can build solutions that actually help people.
- What is your experience?
For years I have worked for large corporations such as ABN AMRO, Vodafone and Heineken, as an expert in user experience. I’m looking for the best possible way to help people solve problems in a way that’s simple, easy and convenient.
Helping entrepreneurs means helping them make more profit by running a smoother business and take away bottlenecks.
In one of my first calls this week I was still a bit sloppy and heard a rejection coming up. I was way too abstract, talking about ‘free advice etc’. I then quickly was able to mention an earlier found pain and got the person to start talking to me after all. It looks like mentioning pains relevant to them now (or before) works to get the conversation started in almost every case.
So I have this way to get started, but my messy intro sure doesn’t help the person to open up and it doesn’t really boost my confidence.
The goal of doing a lot of these calls is to find the ultimate proposition of me as a person.
Every call I make is helping me to fine-tune my message so they will understand faster what I have to offer them and open up to me.
The jump for sole proprietors
I’m starting to see patterns when talking to successful sole proprietors. A lot of them are maxed out in hours. They occasionally hire other sole proprietors for extra capacity. This way they are super busy, and pretty successful. And stuck.
What’s the problem? Most are afraid of hiring employees. A large project now, doesn’t mean another large project later this year. Especially in the middle of crisis. So how can they be sure to be able to pay them? Add to that the troubling stories people tell each other about employees with bad behaviour. It sure doesn’t sound attractive.
The solution for most is the acquisition of a huge project that will keep them busy for at least a year, or a big contract that will provide them with projects for that amount of time.
How to get these projects? By doing acquisition for the right clients. But most sole proprietors don’t have time for acquisition. And the successful ones don’t need to. They receive more and more referrals after every successful project they deliver. That’s acquisition on autopilot. But it takes more than a few extra projects to generate work for one instead of two people.
The clever ones free up their time by hiring someone (part-time) for administration. Another way would be to work smarter and more efficient. This is a huge opportunity to understand about their bottlenecks and help them solve these problems.
Time spent is money spent
A problem I see when talking to sole proprietors is that a lot don’t value their free time. They do regret their overtime on fixed price budgets, but the extra time they
If for example they have administrative work for 1 day a week, and are booked for the other 4 days, they don’t see that as a problem. The 1 day isn’t blocking their ability to bill more hours. It’s necessary work ‘part of the job’.
Does that mean I should disqualify a prospect if I find out he doesn’t value all of his hours spent in ‘free time’ as money spent? Or does that mean I should disqualify all sole proprietors . Once again, it should be possible to educate them. The question is, should I be doing that, or is it, for now, energy I could better spend elsewhere?