The One Thing Your Clients Need From You & 7 Ways To Deliver
There’s no business without clients and no repeat clients without relationships. What is the single thing your clients need more than your expertise, responsiveness, reliability, or attention?
Do you ever find yourself worrying about losing business?
Or messing up a project?
Or, worse, being inadequate in the eyes of your favorite client?
We’ve all been there.
Think of your most important client.
What makes your relationship special? Why do they come back?
What would make it better?
Many people will argue that you have to “fake it until you make it”, showcase yourself as a super hero in the eyes of your clients, overdeliver every single time, never fail at anything, and—fundamentally—not show any weakness.
This is dead wrong.
Our clients don’t need us to be fake, pretend, or over-compensate for our weaknesses.
They need us to be honest and humble.
They need us to be vulnerable.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true.
Think of your favorite client.
What’s your dynamic like? Do you feel comfortable? Excited? Eager to make things happen, or are you dreading it?
Now, think of your favorite product or service provided.
Do you care that they’re not always perfect? Or do you prefer their rawness, truth, and sincerity?
You connect with them because of their humanity.
How do we demonstrate vulnerability?
1) Focus on helping your client, not on selling your services. People will engage you if they feel like you’re helping them in some way, not because you’re selling them something. People don’t buy ice cream because you sold it to them, they buy it because they want it.
2) Give freely. Think of an awesome restaurant. Didn’t you feel great when they gave you a complimentary appetizer or a drink? In any other line of business, don’t be stingy. Give freely. It will balance itself out. Sometimes, some clients will take advantage of you, but 90% of clients will appreciate it.
3) Tell the truth, gently. In my line of business, there’s a lot of truth telling. People want to know the truth, even when it is hard. Tell your clients, gently, the truth they need to know. Not only will they appreciate your honesty, and the benefit the truth brings, but will value your gentleness and consideration of their feelings.
4) Be dumb. Ask dumb questions, make outlandish suggestions, and get creative. Your willingness—indeed, courage—to be creative and take risks will tell your clients you’re willing to go the distance for them.
5) Celebrate mistakes. Whether we want it or not, mistakes will happen. Feeling ashamed about them, or trying to hide them, get defensive and over-explain, or pretend mistakes didn’t happen, doesn’t let us learn from them. Celebrate that they happened because mistakes are huge learning opportunities, both for you and your client. (Note: if the mistake affects the client, tell them you made it.)
6) It’s always about your client. While it is your business you’re building, or a project you’re working on, your focus needs to be on your client. Make everything about them. Even take a proverbial bullet for them. Do the hard lifting for them, honor their work and goals, and don’t be shy to roll up the sleeves and do the “dirty work”. That’s how you build trust.
7) Own It. You are who you are and you’re good enough even on days when you’re not performing the best, feel your own limitations, and come face to face with your weaknesses. Having weaknesses and being honest about your limitations doesn’t make you unemployable; it makes you truthful, reliable, and genuine. Most people will choose to work with imperfect people whom they can trust over the “perfect” ones. Embrace your imperfection; doing so leaves you with a lot of room to grow. For your clients, this means you will constantly be improving the goods and services you provide, and they can trust you. Is there anything more compelling than that?
Whatever you do, remember: corporations aren’t people, but people who run them are people. People don’t do business with corporations, they do business with people.
Be a person. Be vulnerable. You’ll be glad for it.
And your clients will thank you for it.