I'm reading Jeffrey Gitomer's The Little Red Book of Selling. One of its ideas is "give value first": tell people how they can improve their businesses and increase their profits and they'll want to listen to you.
I think this idea makes a lot of sense. However, I'm not sure how to apply it in my particular case. My customers are salons and I don't know anything about how to make a salon more profitable (or better in any way, to be honest) and I'm not sure how to learn. I could read some books but I'd feel extremely disingenuous just passing along some tips I read but never actually tested.
My question is: How do you give value to your customers when you're not an expert in their field?
Right now, you have nothing to sell. (Or you do, but you don't know how it's going to help.)
So start out by seeking out salon managers and stylists, therapists and ask them where the places are that revenues are held back and margins are eaten away. Don't pretend to have any prior insight, but do make sure you recognise, understand and can use the salon trade's jargon first.
You'll not only learn from people's direct experience, you'll also start to break down that word 'salons' into two, three, four categories where the issues are different.
So then your job is, how can I use technology (or how can I use my product) to address any one of the top three issues in one specific category.
That (and ideally some research with salon customers) gives you something to offer, which by design gives you what you want - an insight to offer that could improve profits. And that will give the opportunity to find out if that approach to selling gets you traction with salon owners.
In what field are you an expert? That is where you give value. Salon owners already know how to be in the salon business. Does your product or service make their salon more profitable (or provide some other benefit perceptible to them)? Start with what you know.
I had a flash of inspiration about this just now. It doesn't have to be ME personally giving value as long as it's coming from my direction.
In order to give value to salon owners and stylists, I could throw a free "networking event" and hire a speaker who's prominent in the industry. If the speaker is truly worthwhile, my prospects would be glad to attend and while they're there I could probably get them to talk to me about their business needs.
I think the other feedback I've gotten is great; I just wanted to throw that in because I think it's a good idea as well.