In talking with a prospective client with years of experience under one’s belt, sometimes the solution to the client’s problem is obvious. There’s no need for them to go on and on in explanation. Why not just cut to the chase and tell them what they should do? The challenge in this is whether you will achieve a better result if you give them what they want – or what they need?
Knowing too much can hurt you
There are several problems associated with jumping the gun and spewing recommedations.
- When you do this you’re placing yourself in a judgmental role. “I’m the expert and you’re not, and it’s obvious to me.” Such a positioning on your part places your prospective client on the defensive. If the “right answer” is too quick and obvious to you, you might be telegraphing to them that you think the prospect is ignorant or even stupid. This is not a good position from which to build rapport.
- You don’t have their specific frame of reference. So you’ve worked with 50 companies. Have you worked inside this one? Yes, there are some common denominators in business issues, things that you might see in any size company in any market. But since you haven’t worked here you can’t assume that the issues are in THIS company. Well, you can assume, but if you do you run the risk of being wrong. Generating a “No” from your prospective client breaks the forward momentum in the conversation and at worst can break rapport in a way that reduces the likelihood of you ever earning their business.
Giving them what they want
As our coach colleague and friend Doug Brown says, “Last time I checked it’s still THEIR money.” The prospective client has the opportunity and the responsibility to choose the path forward. We would issue one caveat on this, and that is to do no harm in giving him or her what she wants. In our line of work and in many (or most) industries there are multiple paths to a successful outcome. Remember that
- Closing this first sale is opening the relationship. This is not your only opportunity provided you deliver what you commit to deliver in the product, service, and overall experience.
- As you build trust through delivery, effective follow-through as a resource, you earn the trust of the client. And as you earn more and more trust you earn the opportunity to make recommendations about what else they need. Perhaps the client’s first purchase will take him or her as far as he or she wants for now, or at least far enough for the dollars invested. But perhaps their first purchase proves to them that they need more or different products or services from you. Once you’ve earned trust (and provided that you’re staying in touch on a reasonable basis) the client will contact you when they have something new to discuss.
People don’t like to be sold – but they love to buy. Your job is to be the facilitator for their problem/opportunity identification and decision making process. They will take whatever action they see as the best right now for their business. It’s your job to help them do it. Give them what they want, and then help them also see what they need.