If you are familiar with my sales process, you know I am a true believer in the idea that knowing your client is critical to sales success. This includes their pain and their challenges.

( 3 Simple Steps to Find Clients as a Small Entrepreneur)

And I’m not the only one who shares this philosophy.

Award winning business author, Seth Godin, also said: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

Everything you do, from sales copy, to your offer, your lead magnet, and your sales strategy; should start with identifying your ideal clients’ challenges. Identifying these challenges should also be the first step for your sales and marketing activities.

I have sold in many different industries over the past 15 years; from sales, education programs, financial services, and consumer goods, to online training. I often examine my past successes and failures. My conclusion when I do this is that all my successes can be attributed to my selling something for which my ideal clients are desperately searching.

If you are selling something your ideal clients don’t need, you will need much more time and money to convince them to buy. It’s as simple as that.

So how do you discover your ideal clients’ challenges?

Here are a few simple hacks I use to discover my ideal clients’ challenges.

Hack #1: Journaling

For many female entrepreneurs, our motivations for starting our own businesses lie in a desire to help those who have experienced similar challenges to our own. Maybe you are a life coach who wants to help women gain more confidence and purpose in life because of your personal experiences. Maybe you are an online marketer who wants to help entrepreneurs get more sales through social media because you struggled with these tools at first and have now learned how to manage them.

Whatever the case, journaling can grant you more clarity and help you identify the challenges your ideal clients are facing.

For example, I help female entrepreneurs create sales momentum through easy to implement sales strategies. As a female entrepreneur myself, I understand the emotional ups and downs sales can create. Whenever I design a program, I think of the experience I had and I ask myself: “What kind of help did I wish I’d had?”

By asking myself this, I’m able to craft better offers and strategies for my clients.

Hack #2: Your Past Clients

Look back to the clients you’ve worked with before. Did you take notes during conversations with them? What challenges did they face? What do you remember them struggling with?

Most likely, the challenges they dealt with are similar, if not the same, challenges your current clients face now.

Hack #3: Social Media

Go to a social media group where your ideal clients hang out. Listen to the challenges they face. Conduct a search within the group for keywords, such as “help” or “challenge.”

Whenever you notice them talking about their challenges, make sure to save the exact words they use in your notebook. These words can serve as inspiration when you’re writing your next sales copy, blog, or creating your service offer.

Hack #4: Ask

You can also ask your ideal clients directly. Here are a few ideas as to how to approach your potential clients for direct feedback:

  • Ask directly on social media: Try asking your potential clients about the biggest challenges they face within the service you offer.
  • Offer a free strategy session in exchange for market research.
  • Create a short survey or questionnaire matrix for your potential clients to fill out.

Hack #5: Look for the Symptoms

I use this hack whenever I prepare for a one-on-one sales meeting with a potential client. Prior to the meeting, I look for the symptoms of their challenges.

When you go to the doctor, he/she examines the symptoms of your illness. Based on these, they are able to determine the illness and the cause. Similarly, if your potential clients have a challenge, they will most likely exhibit the symptoms and pains that come with it.

For example: Imagine you are a social media manager looking to help entrepreneurs. You are preparing for your first sales call with a potential client. You can examine their social media. If their site doesn’t have a lot of content (=symptom), they most likely face the challenge of creating such content (=main challenge). If they have multiple active social media sites but don’t use a cohesive or consistent voice (=symptom), perhaps this potential client lacks a clear social media strategy.

So ask yourself:

What would the symptoms be if my target clients face ____ challenge?

So before you meet your potential client, research the symptoms of their challenges.

Knowing your clients’ challenges is the foundation of sales success. So take the time to have a clear understanding of the challenges your ideal clients face.

To your big sales!