Today, I’m going start teaching you a skill that will allow you to pull a profitable business idea out of thin air.
It started for me last year in the foundation and it’s one of the most powerful, fun, and exciting things I’ve ever learned.
It’s such a big skill that I’m going to have to break it up into a few posts so this is the first of the series.
It’s called “idea extraction” and the concept is simple: Ask people in a market what they are struggling with to find a problem they are willing to pay to solve. Stop guessing and just ask 🙂
But before you get started asking questions you should check out these posts. These steps come first.
- 8 Steps to Choosing the Right Market for You
- How to connect with your market to find a painful problem
Sound good? Cool, let’s get after it.
Whether you’ve cold called or scheduled a meeting you want to have a solid introduction to get you started… This is about the only time I ever used a “script”. Mine went like this.
Interviewee: “Hello this is Billy Madison”
Me: “Hi Billy, this is Carl Mattiola.”
Interviewee: “Oh… Hi Carl…”
Me: “We had a time setup to talk. Did I catch you at a bad time?”
Interviewee: “No, I have time what’s up?”
Me: “Great, let me tell you a little about what I’m doing first. Cool?”
Interviewee: “Yes sounds good”
Me: “Cool, well I’m Carl and I’m a software entrepreneur and I’m reaching out to the PT market, trying to learn about the biggest pains and challenges in hopes of solving the biggest problem. I want to see if there is a place I can help. Love to ask you a few questions to get your perspective.”
Seem simple right? It is. But, there are lots of little things built into it that I’ve learned from watching Dane, Chet Holmes, and many others… Feel free to dissect it in the comments 🙂
This is the first spot most people ignore and then fail so pay attention. Fail to do this and you will not find any problem or not be able to go deep enough to find a real one.
Okay so you’ve broken the ice with an awesome intro… But this person is still a TOTAL STRANGER. They don’t know you and you don’t know them. It’s still a little bit uncomfortable.
If you’ve tried this I know you’ve felt that.
You need to get comfortable with them and they need to get comfortable with you. I’d say build rapport but that sounds so Connecticut casual…
There are so many ways people teach this like pacing (changing your voice to the same speed), synching breath, and posture. I’m sure all that works but nothing is as powerful or as fun (for me) than connecting with people about what they like and believe in. Recently had this confirmed by my friend Peter Shallard in some coaching training I took.
So how do I do it…
With PT I like to start by telling them my PT story and why I chose PT as a market. They usually ask me this which is even better. So here’s my real story and real reason I love PT and was psyched to work with them.
“When I was in college I had a shoulder injury from football… It sucked pretty bad. I worked with a PT for about a year to get over it and it was a really great experience… So when I decided I wanted to branch out and do something on my own, I thought it would be awesome to do something in this market.”
We usually connect on this… And since I’m reaching out to entrepreneurs (private practice owners) we usually connect on that. I might ask “How did you get into private practice?… Was it tough taking the leap cause I’m nervous myself?” Another great way to connect and have an awesome conversation. I actually learned a ton from these people in the process.
I like to spend at least 5 minutes on this part of the process alone (I’ve gone over 30 mins on this alone once). During idea extraction I’ve made at least 5 LIFE-LONG friends. You should do this too.
Homework: Before a call, write down the reasons you picked this industry. Write down things that interest you about this person and would like to know about them. Connect with them and make a friend.
Level 1 questions
Once you feel like you have rapport its time to start asking questions… But your first questions and their first answers are never ever ever going to land on your idea. The purpose of the first question is to get them into “story mode”.
My process for this is a little different than most… It didn’t start out this way, but it’s what worked really well for me.
Here are some of my favorite first questions to ask:
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- What does a typical week look like for you?
- What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
- *What projects are you working on to improve your business?
- *What are your goals for your business?
- *How did you get to where you are today?
*The starred questions work great on rock stars (industry leaders). These people will often answer your email with “I dont have any challenges, I’ve worked them all out” or get annoyed with the general questions in the beginning and rush you. This is a good thing. Switch to these questions and they will show you their vision. Eventually I only talked to rockstars and I built a product for them. All my customers are rockstars. I’ll do a post on how to find them sometime soon.
So once you start with one of these questions keep leading them forward with more questions and listening. Your objective is to get them into “story mode”. Once you do you can lead them further with questions like:
- What’s the most important part of your business?
- What’s the most annoying part of your business?
- What activity in your business do you like the most and which one do you like the least?
- What takes you a lot of time?
- *What is stopping you from achieving those goals?
- *What would you like to improve?
With those questions you will most certainly find pain…
But this is only the beginning.
We’ve now reached the next point where people stop or get stuck.
What do you think it is?
To be continued…
PS: Next week Josh and I are gonna team up to help you bust through the part most people get stuck at 🙂 It’s gonna be epic. Check out Josh’s blog here.
PSS: Monday is my birthday and I’ve got a HUGE meeting that I’m really excited about. Someday I’ll tell you about it. For now wish me luck and leave me love in the comments 🙂