Last week I was contacted by an existing client about a new contract for next year. It’s not a renewal of my usual coaching and consulting services, but rather a request for a new deliverable, establishing a multi-year business plan to achieve something they want to achieve. Yet, the contract they want me to take on is to provide them with a plan to accomplish something over a 10-year period. The odd thing is, I don’t think they need 10 years to do this thing, in fact I think they can do it quite well is less than half of that!
This raises and issue that I face from time to time, and that is when clients think they know what they want, but as the expert, I don’t think they know what they need. There is a big difference between want and need, even in business. A leader thinks what he or she wants is something, but I have a completely different perspective looking at it from the outside. More often than not, what they want would actually cost them much more. What do we do when faced with this?
About a month ago I was coaching an entrepreneur and his team on this very issue, in fact I was reviewing a proposal they had prepared for a buyer, which included a few options. It was evident to me that one of the options was not sound, and yet the temptation was for the entrepreneur to still offer it. The option could have led to much greater profits for the entrepreneur, but would have cost the buyer/client more in the long run.
As profit driven business people, sometimes we do benefit from poor practice and decision making by our clients. In my line of work, my ability to profit is frequently linked to poor past practice and that is why I am called on to get things back on track. However, once we are hired and in a professional role, we must be careful to be sure to give our very best advice and recommendations to our clients.
One of my core values is that I “improve my client’s condition.” This means that sometimes I have to advise them against an option or an approach that might be better for me but is clearly not as good for my client. I will be preparing a proposal this week for the client mentioned above, and I will be proposing to help them solve their issue, but in a much shorter time frame. This will result in a better outcome for my client, which is what I am committed to.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- How do you handle it when a buyer or client wants something from you, but you truly believe something else better suits them and will improve their condition better? Answer this honestly.
- Do you have any existing customers that you may not be providing the best solution for, perhaps because they chose to purchase the wrong service or intervention? If so, contact your client to discuss this and make sure you have their best interests at heart.
- If you haven’t yet, make a determination to always advise your clients regarding what you believe they need, even if it is different than what they think they want. Embed this in your values as being more important than your profits. At the end of the day, businesses that put their clients’ needs first that profit more in the long run anyhow. Believe it!!
Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and workplace mental health.
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