What do you do when your product isn’t selling as much as expected and the financial pressure is mounting?
Reach out to the only people who could help you figure out what to do: your existing customers.
Surveying existing customers helps you get a genuine feel for who your target audience really is and what they need from you. These people have already bought your product/service, and therefore are the type of people you want to get more of.
The 5 business-critical questions to ask your customers:
1. Who are you and what do you do?
It might sound like too basic a question to start with, but this one is crucial if you want to truly understand who your most profitable customers are. We’re talking things like job titles, responsibilities, level of expertise and knowledge, purchasing power, etc.
Sometimes it’s as simple as this: there isn’t a problem with your product. The problem is you’re talking to the wrong audience.
2. What does your day look like?
Once you know a bit more about your customers, this question helps you put yourself more firmly in their shoes. When you ask ‘what does your day look like?,’ what you’re really asking is: where does my product/service fit into your life?
You use this question to find out what your customers do on a daily basis, what processes they follow, what tools they use—so you can understand where there is (or isn’t) space for your product/service.
3. What made you buy the product? What challenges are you trying to solve?
This one helps you uncover the real reason(s) customers are buying your product; their response(s) will tell how to craft your messaging and improve your product accordingly.
Example: “before taking this course, the biggest challenges I faced were ________,” or “the thing that was holding me back was ________.”
Word it in a personal way: “Before taking this course I struggled to ________.” And then just by asking it in that state, it gets people to respond in a more human way and then, “After taking this course,________” and let them fill in the blanks.
4. What did you like most about the product? What did you dislike the most?
These questions are vital for product development, and the more honest the feedback, the better. Thorough answers will help you understand what works and doesn’t, so you can improve the experience for your customers; in turn, this knowledge will help you create promoters who will keep recommending your product/service to their friends and colleagues.
5. What nearly stopped you from buying?
It’s extremely powerful to understand what your customers had in mind—their fears, their concerns, their objections—*after* they went through the full experience, rather than trying to infer this information from random visitors on your website who might not fit your buyer persona or who might not have wanted to buy in the first place.
There are dozens of points in a buyer’s journey where they may be tempted to back out. Maybe they are afraid of wasting their money, or the order form was confusing, or the messaging rubbed them the wrong way—nevertheless, they made it through. By asking customers to identify any point at which they had second thoughts, you’ll be able to uncover the fears and concerns that linger in the minds of other potential buyers.
Bonus question: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
People tend to wait until the end of the conversation (or the survey) to open up about an issue that’s been bugging them, or something that they love about your company or product. This usually leads to some very interesting insights.
Encourage people to be 100% honest. As in, really spell out that they should be honest, and that you will love their feedback. This question is great because it gives your customers the chance to discuss any thoughts they have about your company or product that they haven’t yet expressed. Ask the question, encourage them to speak from the heart, and just listen.
When your product isn’t selling, time is of the essence. You don’t need to go overboard and send a massive survey with these questions to everyone who ever bought from you—it’s enough to start really small, with 3-4 customers. You won’t get overwhelmed, and you will get enough insight to make a bunch of changes and forge ahead.
And yes: it might feel weird to contact people or even have a Skype/Hangout call with a complete stranger—but some customers might even feel flattered that you want to hear from them. And you really need their help.
Go for it.
PS. The whole process above is something people usually agree on, and everyone thinks it’s a good idea. Yet, very rarely it gets actually done. I can promise you that if you go through the questions above (my favorite is #5), you will strike gold. It never failed me, not once.