The Most Important Document You Probably Aren’t Keeping

by Scott - 16 Comments

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Today I want to share a shockingly simply practice that has made me 10’s of thousands of dollars, allowed me to perform better at work, and created more time to do the things I love.

This practice is the secret to communicating better and how I develop online products that are allowing me to live my dream life right now.

Where we worked out on Friday

Where We Worked Out On Friday

The practice…

Keep a document of every question people ask you.

Yep. It’s that simple.

Anytime someone asks me a question (especially over email), I file it away into a massive google docs spreadsheet that I call my “demand understanding document.”

Actually, now I forward it to my virtual assistant Josiah and he does it.

Why You Should Do This

Your ability to be successful at most things in business is directly correlated with your understanding of what people want.

A “demand understanding document” serves as a repository of everything the people you interact with want which helps you better understand your audience so that you communicate more persuasively with them.

And when I say audience, I’m not just talking about people who read your blog. I’m talking about anyone you communicate with to move your business forward: prospects, clients, colleagues…you get the picture.

What You Can Do With This Information

You can probably do a zillion things with this information. Because I believe the most practical way to learn is model others, I will share with you how I use my demand understanding document.

Product Creation

Right now I’m living in Brazil off of a healthy income I make on information products; specifically online courses that teach people how to do things.

In order to create these, I don’t just come up with ideas that I think are cool and make a course on it. I use my demand understanding document to look for patterns of what people ask me.

Once I’ve determined there is a significant interest in a particular topic that I want to teach, I then use all the questions related to that topic to guide the content creation of the product. I literally just answer all the questions people ask me and fill in any perceived voids with only what I consider to be “must know” information no one has asked me.

This In Action Right Now:

Over the past two years, I’ve been asked hundreds of questions about how to go from 0 to 60 as a business development professional and for specific anecdotes to really tough situations people often encounter. Things like how to:

  • How do I land that initial marquee partnership? Who should I approach first and how do I do that?
  • How do I stand out and win business if my industry is comodotized (i.e. digital agencies)?
  • How do I use direct response copywriting best practices to write insanely compelling cold emails that get responses?
  • How do I resurrect a conversation that just went dead on a deal I really want?
  • How do I get get buy in from top decision makers in large corporations?

All these questions is indicative of demand for a product that addresses how to handle all of these challenges.

…So I’m considering creating a product that does this and as well as share the best of everything I know about doing biz dev effectively. If you’re interested in taking a glimpse at this product and the mindset I use to create it, enter your email in this form.

Refine Pitches

When I was doing business development at SinglePlatform, I’d always record all the questions both prospects and partners would ask me.

I used this primarily to do two things:

  • formulate a rebuttal document so that I had a great answer to everything anyone would ever ask me
  • pre-emptively weave the optimal answer to any question I’d be consistently asked into my pitch in order to disarm prospects before they’d even have a chance to think of or ask a question (i.e. who are your competitors)

Create F.A.Q. for Everything to Save Time

We spend a lot of time answering the same questions over and over again. Using my demand understanding document to identify these instances, I’ll create some type of asset to point people to instead of repeatedly using my time to answer the same questions over and over again.

Real life manifestations of this:

  • The SP publisher onboarding document which answers all questions potential partners might have about working with us
  • Break Into Biz Dev: my online course on How to Get A Startup Biz Dev Job
  • Many, many blog posts and canned responses

Ideas for Blog Posts

For content on Life-LongLearner, I don’t write for myself.

I derive the greatest joy by helping others so I try to create things here that help people live happier, more productive lives. I accomplish this by writing about the things people ask me about, which I again, track and quantify in my demand understanding document.

Where do you think the idea for this post came from ; )

CreateACourseAbout

My Demand Understanding Document and the Exact Structure

In the 1st column I list the question someone asks me or a broad theme which implies a question.

In the 2nd column I list the person who asked that question’s contact information so that I can reach out to them for more information or to inform them of something I created which addresses their need….yep, this document also serves as a marketing tool to communicate with early adopters.

The third column is the date so that I can understand how salient that question is for a particular person.

important document

Muy Importante: How to Compel People To Ask You Questions

Because there is so much value in understanding your audience, you should intentionally do things that encourage people to ask you questions they have for you:

Places that you can do this:

1. At the welcome message of your email list

Here’s an example from my welcome message that everyone who subscribes to my blog sees:

important document 3

2. As part of a form or survey

Here is a example of this in a form I put together for anyone looking to go from 0 to 60 in business development.

important document 2

BTW if you’re looking to up your business development game, you should probably let me know the biz dev challenge your struggling with by clicking the image above so I can help you.

3. At the end of a presentation or pitch

[quote style="1"]“So at this point, is there any questions you have for me”

“What else do you need to know from me before buying”

“Are there any questions that your team typically has to answer before making a decision like this”[/quote]

4. On social media

Here is an example of this from one of my favorite bloggers James Altucher.

JamesAltucher

One Way to Remember to Do This

If you can’t tell by now, I consider this document INCREDIBLY important to my ability to be successful in business.

A lot of people will probably read this, create the document, and then forget about it or never do anything with it. Sigh.

One way to prevent this is to bookmark the document and put it prominently in your browser so that it’s staring you in the face at all times. Here’s mine in Google Chrome:

Important Document 5

 

If you’ve never bookmarked an individual document before, just open the document and bookmark it like you would any page.

The Bottom Line

If you start keeping this document, you will never need to “think of ideas” for products or businesses. People will tell you the pain they need solved through the questions they ask you.

You’ll understand how to be  more persuasive with potential clients and customers, as well as know how to better serve existing ones because you’ll know exactly what they want.

You’ll be able to identify opportunities to create assets that can save you time so you can spend more time doing the things you love.

This is why I consider this my most important document.

Okay…I think you know what to do after reading this ; )

 

Do you have a unique document that you think most people don’t keep that provides a ton of value in your life or business? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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16 comments, add to the conversation.

  1. Guest

    Definitely want to test this out. Also, James Altucher is the man. Currently re-reading Choose Yourself. Who are some of your other favorite bloggers? I’ve recently realized how much more value I get out of blog content than most news articles and want to learn from the best bloggers out there.

    Reply

  2. Zion Kim

    I always thought about doing this but never actually got around to it, to see that someone actually does this makes me fee guilty enough to actually go ahead and do it now :)

    Reply

  3. justinmares

    This is great. I have 2 documents that I think are valuable:

    1. Weekly review document. Picked this up from Dale Carnegie, but basically it’s a document where I review what went well during a certain week, what I could have improved, and set 1 goal for the upcoming week.

    2. “Business mistakes” document where I write down major mistakes I made in my career or work. I try not to repeat anything from here :)

    Reply

    1. Scott Britton

      Thanks broseidon.

      I like the weekly review and need to make more time for intentional introspection. At casa de Rio we do this thing where we each state 3 things we were greatful for that day. It’s a good habit

      I like the business mistakes document. Do you ever set time to review it? I find I can at times start lists like that and then never review which hurts me internalizing the info…

      Since, I know you’re also into copy Justin, I also keep a “words I like” document where I log all the words and phrases I like / find effective as I encounter them

      Reply

      1. justinmares

        Yea I review business mistakes any time I’m thinking about major career shifts/moves. I’ve found it really helpful to think through what I shouldn’t mess up again, and think it’ll get more valuable as I get older. Yanno?

        Reply

  4. justincaron

    Good read Scott, I keep a daily budget in excel, and an ongoing “to do” list – which is broken down into categories. I also keep a “completed to do” so i can go back and see everything ive done. i find it rewarding to check things off (or move them off my main doc and be archived)

    Reply

  5. Pingback: How To Build A Digital Street Team - The Phat Startup

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