I am going to begin this blog entry with a quote from Henry Ford
“If I’d asked my clients what they needed… they would have said speedier steeds”
If Henry Ford had basically given his clients what they needed, the entire car industry could be very not quite the same as what it would seem that today.
Whether you refer to them as clients, customers or accounts, your experience working with any of these groups has likely presented you with the tough decision to either give them what they want or to give them what they really need.
If you are lucky, these two areas will be the same and you look like a hero as you deliver great results to your happy smiling clients. All is right in the world!
However after enough years in the business and after working with enough people, you will find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place as you deal with clients who bring you ideas that you know are not going to help them achieve their goals.
Henry Ford alludes to this conflict in his quote, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Often, customers are too close to their own business to see the bigger picture of what it really needs to get to the next level. They will ask for a bandage to fix a gaping wound, when really the underlying problem – and its solution – is much deeper.
So how do you gracefully persuade customers to accept your recommendations for what they need when this differs from what they want? Let’s take a look at five steps that will get you headed in the right direction.
Be kind, but honest when sharing your opinion and expertise
There is never a need to be rude or condescending when informing clients that you do not believe their ideas will achieve the results they desire. Remember, they have sought out your expertise because they want your input. Strive to build a relationship based upon kindness and honesty so that you are able to openly share your opinion and they are well received by your clients. The more your clients trust you and the more your track record of advice has panned out in their favor, the more likely they are to listen to your recommendations in the future.
Offer real examples backing up why something may not be in their best interest
Some clients will want to see proof as to why their idea is not good for their business. Do your research and offer real examples or statistics of other businesses that have used a similar idea or strategy only to have it yield less than desirable results. Another method is to back up your own ideas with research and examples. Don’t just tell your clients, show them why you and many others have found your idea to be of greater benefit.
Give them (only good) options from which they may choose
Give your clients a sense of control and involvement by presenting them with options from which they may choose. The key is to give them only options that will help achieve the same overarching goal. By controlling the options presented, you can help steer your clients toward only good decisions, whether they know it or not.
Get them excited about these options!
Your clients may come to you with a “bad” idea because another business did it (likely in a different industry, with different goals and a different budget) and it looked cool so now they want to do it too. They’re excited about it and for that reason alone it’s attractive. Use this “shiny object syndrome” to your benefit by turning your “better” options into other, shinier objects that catch their eye. Your excitement for these options will get them excited as well. Best of all, they should love that these ideas are new and different from what another business has already done. They will get to be among the first!
Offer praise and encouragement (even if it was your idea)
Finally get down from your high horse and take a back seat to receiving the glory when your ideas deliver the results you’ve promised to your clients. All the credit you could want will make its way to you in the form of a nice paycheck. Until then, be a cheerleader for your client and offer praise and encouragement for their smart decisions that have helped them to achieve their goal
To Sum it all up Most of us would like to think we give clients what they want, right? The client comes to you with an idea for a website, landing page, application, or other project, and you do everything you can to deliver a product that meets or exceeds their expectations. But what happens when what the client “wants” is at odds with what the client needs?
You’d be surprised how many clients appreciate the work you will put into this process, and are excited about working with you even when the overall project may be much larger or more expensive than they originally thought. When other competitors simply quote what they asked for, go above and beyond by providing what they need not what the want