Your client says, “yes” to your proposal and decides to work with you. You are overjoyed and you meet him for the very first time. Besides thanking him for making the right choice, what is the first question you ask him?
Well, this is the “magical” question I ask him,
“Why did you decide to work with me?”
I thought it was obvious and perhaps, innocuous enough for me. But when I told a friend of mine. He was aghast. He asked me why would I ask that question to jeopardize the relationship. He had thought that by asking this question, it would inadvertently cause my client to think twice about saying “yes” and even trigger some sort of buyer’s remorse.
Of course, I hadn’t told him my rationale for doing so at this point.
You see, I ask this question and it’s such a simple but profoundly effective one. In fact, I recently asked this question to a client whom I recently on-boarded as my private coaching client. And the same drill – why me? Why of all the outstanding coaches in the market, you’d decide to put your bets with me?
So he told me that there were several factors. One, I had a diverse clientele working with both clients from the West and also, Asian ones so I’ll probably offer a balanced perspective. Secondly, I was easy to work with. Third, he told me I was sincere and wasn’t out to “close the deal” for the sake of it.
From my perspective, it was definitely refreshing to know and in the perspective of sales, I now know what works for a client demographic like his. I probably attribute this to my training at Sandler Training, a corporate sales training company that I worked at for my first job out of accounting school. One of the mantras that was often repeated was, “no mutual mystification”. So as much as you can, it is the sales professional’s job to take the guesswork out of the game so you can focus on serving your client.
And in this context, most people would pop the champagne after the client says “yes” and passes the cheque to you. Nothing inherently wrong about that. But suppose if you don’t know what were the key triggers for your clients – how do you ensure you stay on-course for this specific client? And how do you replicate your success with future clients like him (her)?
Coming back to this client, I’ve actually gotten feedback that I am easy to work with and my sincerity counts for a lot, on numerous occasions. At the end of the day, it should be common sense but I find that being client-focused is still the best way to go. Instead of being the big-diva coach or trainer who sets all the rules, makes your clients jump through hoops and enjoys the ego trip.
And this further reinforces how I work with clients of similar stature – mid to senior corporate executive, holding key P&L responsibilities, late 40s to 50s, appreciates the personal attention but needs the space and respect, hates BS and wasting time etc.
Back to my concerned friend of mine, I shared with him this perspective. And I later also realized that having your client vocalize and reiterate his reasons for choosing you actually reinforces his decision than weaken it. Of course, preceding the question I would often say,
“I would very much love to help more clients and people like yourself in the areas of overcoming challenges in speaking. To help me do so better and to understand perspectives from your seat, I’ll need your support in this question. Why did you decide to work with me?”
So yes, share your intent for asking and ask the question.
Try it and if you do it in the right spirit with the right intention, I trust it will do the same for you.