I was talking to a client this morning who’s in graphic design and she was sharing some of her frustrations with the way clients brief her and what she knows they really need.
I think all of us in the service industry can relate to that one.
It’s definitely frustrating, but, we have to accept that our understanding of where our customers are coming from is paramount to us being able to meet them where they’re at, show them genuine empathy and then help them to see that we can help them get to where they want to go even though the route may be different to the one they had in mind.
I’ve been guilty of being too quick to give a client a proposal for what I know they need without doing enough digging to get really clear on what they think they want first – and why.
After a while doing what you do you get to the point where you know what works and what doesn’t, and you know that most clients don’t know that, so hopefully you’re already introducing some of that discussion into the sales process.
But unless you are able to truly meet your potential client where they are and then help them to walk across the bridge that you’ve built (your solution) from where they are to where they want to be – instead of the well-trodden path they wanted you to take them for a walk on – you’re going to end up losing the sale and feeling even more frustrated about ‘the way clients think’.
I’m not preaching! I’ve learned this lesson the expensive way. And I’m by no means done; it’s a work in progress.
However as I specialise in helping my client’s position themselves as the perfect solution for their ideal clients for the specific problem that they solve, we do work on this issue.
Part of the work we do together includes …
Stepping into the client’s shoes emotionally and considering:
- What they are thinking and feeling?
- What they want?
- Why they think that’s what they need?
We then look at:
- How to help the client to see why you might suggest a different way to solve their problem
- How it ends up better for them to do things this way
Client’s don’t come to you looking for specific things to be a pain in the ass, although yes, I know sometimes it does feel like that!
They see things a certain way based on what they know, what they’ve read, heard, been told by friends and seen other people do.
In most of our businesses there’s some education needed with potential clients around what we do, how we do it as well as why we do it this way – and then most importantly – what’s in it for them when we do it this way vs. the way most people in our space do things.
If you’ve done enough work to understand your ideal client and what they’re really buying from you (hint: it’s the benefit they get from the service you sell them – not the service itself) then mapping out a sales process and a customer experience to match should be reasonably easy.
The goal is for them to feel understood and to see you as a professional they can trust who’s given them a new perspective on things while at the same time not making them ‘wrong’.
You’ll need to pre-empt their fears by addressing them head on, explain the process and what they can expect if they work with you and then make sure you deliver.
Humour always helps and if you can find a funny example online somewhere like this one to ease the tension and get your message across then definitely do it.