Are You Talking to a New Client or Another Deer in the Headlights?

I’ll bet you’ve seen it too many times…

Don't let your prospective clients turn into deer in the headlights because you give them too much information! Photo © Creative Commons, Fabrice Florin

Don’t let your prospective clients turn into deer in the headlights because you give them too much information! Photo © Creative Commons, Fabrice Florin

There you are, talking about your work to someone you think you can really help. Then — out of nowhere –WHAMMO!

Your prospective client turns into a deer in the headlights and runs for cover.

It happens to most of the people I work with — hands-on practitioners who are really serious about helping people… good at what they do… intent on making a difference in the world.

If only they could get anybody to listen…

And that’s exactly where the problem is… not that talking is wrong, but talking about the wrong thing makes prospects run.

Let’s face it — a person who’s running as fast as they can in the other direction isn’t going to become your client, so it’s really important to get this under control..

What’s the wrong thing to talk about?

In a nutshell:
Your “Modality.”
Your way of working.
Whatever it is you do with people when they pay to see you.

I can understand that you might be scratching your head about this because, after all, if they’re going to pay you, don’t they want to know what you’re going to do?

And of course, you’re right. They do want to know what you’re going to do.

The thing is, “what you’re going to do ” means something different to you than it does to them.

You’ve spent years learning what you do. You are immersed in the philosophy, the skills, and the execution, advancement, perfection and application of those skills. You’ve read all the books. Your life has been transformed.

You are forever different because of the work your do… and if only people knew about that, they could change their lives, too.

Obviously, talking about it is likely to turn your crank… especially because it’s exactly what you’re going to do when a client comes to you.

So why does this not help you get a client?

Because what almost everybody wants to know is that what you’re going to do is — solve their problem.

See the difference? Talking about “what” you know you are going to do when they come, why your work “works,” or how it came to be valuable for the whole world is not the same as telling them that “what” you will do when they come is help them solve their problem.

It’s like…
one day you realize that since you moved into your house 3 years ago, you’ve bought three new sets of tires and replaced all four rims twice. You don’t know why you’re having this problem, so you call a couple of people to take a look at your driveway, because — well, you’re not sure, but you have the inkling that maybe your driveway has something to do with your tires.

The first guy comes. He sells concrete work so obviously the first thing he see is that you’ve got asphalt. He waxes poetic about cement, tells you what’s different about their truck and why it matters, lets you in on where their special mix comes from, tells you where they get their sand and how much they add. Then, the biggie — he divulges their special algorithm that specifies the exact amount of water to use according to the temperature on the day they pour it and the weather forecast for the next several days. He gives you references to articles about his “special sauce” technique in Concete: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and hands you a card with a link to his YouTube videos. He gives you the scoop on where he learned all this, how he became an expert in finishing concrete and how his wife gets the concrete powder out of his clothes at the end of the day without turning his pants or her machine to stone. Then he leaves.

The next guy comes and right away he says, “You know, these 7 potholes you’ve got here — look, most of them are at least a foot deep — I think they’re the heart of your problem. I’ve got a bunch of customers who had potholes like this and they were replacing tires left and right! But since I fixed their driveways, they haven’t had to replace even one tire, and certainly not their rims! I’m sure I can help you make your current tires last as long as they’re supposed to. Would you like us to do it on Monday?”

So… who do you want to work with?

Are you more inclined to ask questions and keep listening to the guy who gave you a dissertation, or the one who made it clear that he understood your problem and let you know he’s got a lot of happy customers who used to have the same problem you’ve got — before they met him?

What’s the difference in what these two guys did? I’m sure you could find a lot of things, but in the world of practice-building, it comes down to this:

What the Dissertation Guy did was make it about himself.

What the Solution Guy did was make it about YOU.

Hands-on practitioners thrive on information.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from acquiring, cataloging and using information to help your clients. Information can make you a great practitioner. It can give you boundless resources to share with your clients. It can help you figure out what to do in a given situation and know when to move on to find another solution.

It’s easy to have such a magnificent love affair with information that it renders you blind to the times when it serves neither you nor your clients.

In fact, you may love information so much that you try to SELL with it. After all, if you’re like most of the hands-on practitioners I help get more clients, you hate even reading the word, but when you’re giving information it doesn’t feel like you’re selling.

What you probably don’t realize is that you’re still selling, only you aren’t doing it effectively.

And to be honest, it’s not that information doesn’t have a place in a conversation with a prospective client. It’s that the information you give needs to answer a burning question for the other person or it isn’t going to land.

When it speaks to that urgent question, it hits home and then it’s easy to get out of your own way and give other folks plenty of space to convince themselves that they need to work with you.

Take a significant action step:

Next time you’re with a prospective client find out what’s important to that person before you talk about what you do. When you speak, make it about them!

And then take another action step…

Most practitioners could read this article, and think, “Oh, yeah, good idea.” But if they get stuck on the “how to” that would be the end of it.

I have concrete solutions that have helped scores of practitioners fix the potholes in the driveway that leads to their practice. I can help you, too, as long as you want it enough to get in touch with me.

To let me know you want to talk, email me — Allison at allisonrapp.com.

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