Business plans are so talked about but rarely find their way into day to day activities in small business. Business Plans are essentially for acquiring financing, but the real rubber meets the road elements aren’t found anywhere in them. Executive coaches in the VIP Coach program have a framework from which a model is organized.
Business owners don’t run out of money, they run out of time. They just can’t get to what a business plan demands in the freight train espresso economy moving at mach speed. The need has emerged for a simple wire-frame from which a business plan is born in seconds and an offer is made to the market. T-Leaders ( transformative leaders ) in the VIP Coach program operate according to this prototype. There are 7 Essential questions to master it:
Question 1: What is the problem?
T-leaders design businesses which tell a good story about the market’s unique situation in which they’re passionate about helping. Stories create hope or anxiety for a potential buyer. The formative forces driving the buyer’s story preempt her to self-identify themselves within the context of the story. We can see here that “pull” is the motivator for the buyer (once exposed to the story the business tells), rather than “push”, selling, or forcing to engage.
Developing the story starts by “going into the buyer’s world.” We may think we know our buyer, but do we actually come to see the world through their eyes? The saying goes: “If you want to know what John Smith buys, look at the world through John Smith’s eyes.” What are his deepest fears? Challenges? Desires? Opportunities? Assets? What excites him the most? You could sum up 4 years of Harvard Business School in this question right here.
At high level performance (HLP Group), we tell the story of the “plateau of progress” and the predictable path of how a business owner gets himself caught up in the innovation-killing time traps of putting out fires and getting overwhelmed to a perpetual point until he’s prisoner of his own machine, completely limited by growing bigger. Using terms and language to symbolize the story helps the potential buyer smell the fragrance of a world that sounds all too familiar. He can understand himself better through our way of explaining what is going on and how he feels. He finds through the story that he is not alone. The story is very “sticky” to him as it stimulates his interest being profiled so clearly through the stories plot.
Exercise: Write down the following about your ideal buyer…
Remember that all solutions which a business model encompasses are born out of a situation, condition, or challenge, opportunity, one of these from which the T-leader will locate and generate value upon it.
Tell the story starting with:
“We work with (target market types) who ( their main goal ). Despite wanting this goal, most of them are (describe the challenge here in three sentences.) They begin saying to themselves (describe the interior condition/remarks buyer’s says to self and is witnessing). We call this whole situation (catchy name here). The signs of it are (describe the conditions even more). In contrast, (target market type) wants to be able to (describe goal/desire), but he can’t because (describe the limiting condition). Does this sound familiar to you?”
Another type of story focused less on buyer pain and suffering and instead hints at a level of perfection the buyer is most likely to deny. This story tells the story of everything being so unlikely perfect that the buyer begins to consider how.
“We work with…(same start as above.)” When they (describe ideal picture perfect scenario here), they’re able to (describe the big possible goal here).
Eg. The entrepreneur is very successful and wants more money than he has now. So he sits down and writes a performance profile of the ideal performance for his next manager position, so that his hiring biases don’t get the best of him. He goes to the internet and places the profile, 5 minutes later two all-star players hit is inbox. He’s stunned. Can you imagine it being that easy?
Tell the story in ways that would assume the buyer is already doing such things and most likely the buyer will deny perfection, feel it’s a privilege to have what the story describes, and takes interest in the story. It describes his future self. It implies what he “should” be doing.
Question #2: Why hasn’t it been solved?
What are the reasons for the conditions your story describes about the buyer in his stage in life? Why hasn’t it been solved for him yet, assuming these conditions continue to prevail? At the VIP Coach, our client’s seek help and guidance because they feel unfocused, powerless, and frustrated about complexity. We’ve had to think very carefully as to why historically the human potential technologies out there don’t present a permanent solution to eliminating these challenges. It’s become clear that workshops and human potential methods have become over-popularized to the degree that most approaches actually backfire in terms of leading successful change to happen. All the hype on the market has left new and emerging fans of learning and continuing education lost without a success evaluation matrix from which to discern proper and stable programs. Most people reading and studying what the self-help industry has sold them end up worse than before. We can explain from a systems thinking standpoint why that is so today. There are unintended consequences these methods lead to every time no matter whose using them.
Exercise: Take a historic look at what’s been exposed toward the conditions described in your story and what has worked/not worked in the past and why? A value proposition is about making case, and if you’re going to make one, knowing why the problem hasn’t been solved yet is a key piece to supporting your proposed solutions to the market.
Question #3: What could happen if the problems were solved?
T-leaders before coming into the VIP Coach failed to explore the actual impact of the challenges the buyer has admitted from the story. Sales leaders tend to move so fast that slowing down to explore impact becomes forgotten. Enthusiasm leads to premature elaboration; exploring impact gets looked over. A critical piece is missed.
Who else and where else is impacted by your buyer’s conditions? If one of their conditions is they’ve hit the Plateau of Progress, we know at the VIP Coach they’re not setting any new goals. The entrepreneur has given up on dreams and comprised. Hopelessness set’s in like poison. Important deadlines and projects get missed. Credibility starts to slide, leading to relationships suffering, lost customers, and financial breakdowns. Others in the organization are affected, all up and down the chain of command and around the Company. You can see how one single issue going unsolved has had side effects which enlarge the need to act upon doing something about it.
Exercise: Write down all the buyers’ imaginable side effects and people who’re affected by the conditions outlined in the story exercise, and clarify metrics—lost customers, lost sleep, increased workers comp costs, lowered productivity hours in the average day, and it goes on and on. Every challenge your buyer has certainly is linked to impact levels you must explore. When you know the impact potential, you can now begin to assess the potential outcome of change. When the sales leader explores impact of the problems, he implies hope that if they’re removed, the benefits will be greater.
What would happen if the conditions shifted? If the problems were solved? For example, in the VIP Coach, what could happen if a T-leader was able to focus 80% of his time and attention on what he loves doing? What could happen if he did get the reach he needs to refocus on money making relationships and key activities? What could happen if we had a powerful and effective team to free him up? What could happen if we had a sense of direction and purpose underlying his actions and awareness? You begin to see the seismic value levels the business model can put out by doing this exercise and answering what could happen if the problem/challenge/conditions were solved? First, explore impact, second estimate potential benefits.
Question #4: Why should I believe you?
An offer made to a potential customer is just like a court case presented to a jury. There must be preponderance of proof to justify the act to move ahead and minimize risk. Hence, the risk of NOT acting would be higher than acting. Any reasonable buyer will need to know and should be offered proof. Sales leaders don’t do this enough until the buyer asks, which is a no-no. The buyer shouldn’t have to ask, they deserve to know, in fact, it’s a necessity. Without proof, buyers have difficulty moving from identifying you as the best solution to then taking action within the risk considerations. To help this transition , we must identify why our bet is safe.
“Mr. Buyer, I’m 100% confident I can help you take delivery of (X capabilities), and I’d like to prove that to you. Would you allow me to do that by taking a serious look at my Company?”
Let me ask you this. When you were reading that, would you say “no” to such a gentle and generous offer? Would you feel safe? Of course, because you’re not asking for an aggressive commitment, instead you’re prompting the buyer to turn attention toward proving why you’re confident in helping her.
Exercise: What makes your offer a safe bet? Why should your buyer believe you?
Testimonials? You’ve done it before—case histories? Someone they like and respect says so? You’ve been doing it so long? Your credentials? Endorsements? It looks like you’re on top of it? Your products are the best out there—certified by someone? Charts and graphs? Trends? You’ve done it yourself as the buyer?
Question #5: What is different or better about your solution?
Features are not benefits, and benefits are not advantages. Features are attributes about your product or service model that you have. Benefits are what they do for the buyer. But advantages are a step further. Advantages are what the buyer says matters to them. “The coffee cup has a handle.” “The handle avoids burning your hand.” “You said you wanted a comfortable cup to not burn you, so here it is!” The third sentence is an advantage.
When you consider what is unique about your model, think of what is most valuable to the buyer. What you bring forth must combine these two into one —unique and valuable. The VIP Coach provides a time system solution to coaching clients, which they say they want, to be able to enjoy more free time with loved ones. Wives get their husbands back. We here that all the time, “thank you for giving my (loved one’s name) back to me.” That is an advantage.
Your focus should be to create a unique, total, ultimate client experience which forms out of four key resource points: 1) Your personal gift, 2) What matters to you, 3) Ideal client profiles, and 4) Transformative conversations. Personal gifts are superior skills you have a passion for. Behind all businesses are people who have qualities which help others seek relationships with them. Then they do business together. What matters to you is an intrinsic desire which is ineffable; you just can’t not do what you want to offer to your customer. It is your passion. Ideal clients profiles include the traits and qualities from which your genuine respect, admiration and best work emerges. When you put yourself strictly in front of them and develop solutions, watch out! You may see the hero in you. Your best work is born out of generating value for those you enjoy working with. But those you can’t stand will fire you for your weaknesses. You fall into the boobie trap of non-ideal clients when they use your weaknesses against you, instead of you turning them down in the first place and passing on the projects. Accept B clients, get fired. Govern your acceptance to only let in A clients, you’ll forgiven for your weaknesses all day long because your strengths to them outweigh other parts. Every rose has it’s thorns.
And most importantly, your business in essence is a series of transformative conversations, where the data points gathered from your questions, postures and positions your “source”—your personal gift to rise up and take a creative walk down “Solutions” lane where you be yourself, and become hugely significant, valuable, useful and available to another’s future. Your greatest opportunities always lies in other people’s futures, and if you can help them help you understand their highest future possibility which is presencing itself now (what needs them to come into being; destined being; sense of purpose and belonging), you can then create solutions linked to their challenges, opportunities, and strengths from which your leadership, confidence, and creativity can arise.
Question #6: How much does it cost?
You’re not the only one, nor your business is responsible for getting the buyer the results/outcome/desires they most wish to achieve. They must do something toward that end and meet you halfway. What must they do? What are they responsible for? In the VIP Coach, we make it crystal clear right from the get-go that it’s about commitment and engagement. The performer takes responsibility for the results he achieves. We can’t play the game and win for him.
It’s important that you spell out clearly what the actual cost elements in dollars are for the buyer, as well as time, energy and other resources they’ll give to get what they’re hoping for in the first place. If you say, I’ll give you “this for that”, you’re able to clearly make an offer that is easy and irresistible. I’ll give you 140 days off per year, triple your income, and enjoyment for $10,000. It’s a give to get scenario.
Exercise: What does the buyer get, for that? List out what they get and what they must give, in money, time, effort, etc. What does it cost?
Question #7: What do you want me to do?
So we’ve built up a strong case, it’s clear why they should buy, we’ve given them every reason to, but we’re now at the final countdown. They can cross the finish line and become a new customer. This is often where sales leaders choke. They fail to ask for the order or tell the buyer what they want them to do. Look closely at how you do this and what you could do to strengthen it…Do you ask for the money upfront or invoice it? Do you make them a trial offer and then buy? Do they get an incentive for buying now? Do they have options? Do you ask them for their preferred form of payment? How do they normally handle a transaction of the size you’re asking for? Again, what do you want them to do, so they can get what they want?
Many sales leaders will put up obstacles here. They’re hung up on being too expensive or other conceptual limitations, throwing up reasons for buyers not to buy by being sorry instead of leading and finishing strong. At the VIP Coach, we have a process called the “Imaginary Neck brace Model” we use to help our buyers enroll in the VIP Coach while feeling safe about it.
Conclusion and Summary
With these 7 questions answered just look at the applications of this information. You’ll have the copy you need for your new or current website. You now have the ingredients to introduce your business in a concise and clear way. And you’re ready to answer the tough questions when buyers are laggards and needing information to move ahead. Just pull from these answers as you consider the core guiding ideas from which your business model is shaped.