In a conversation with a potential client, what's most likely the best question you could hear?
“So, how do we work together?”
That would take some beating, wouldn’t it?
There are still several things that need to happen, but that question tells you you are having an impact.
An essential aspect of successfully onboarding new clients is that you are easy to do business with.
But what does this mean in practice?
1. It makes more sense to work with you than not
When you have conversations with potential clients, how inherently valuable do you make these conversations?
One of the best pieces of advice I received about how to build a client base was to have conversations with people and make them so valuable that some of those people will pay you not to stop.
2. The process is enjoyable and easy
People do not enjoy saying ‘no’. They really want to say ‘yes’ because they want their decisions and their life to be easy.
One of the biggest mistakes advisers can make is to cause people to have to think too much. A common example of this is giving people too much information, which can overwhelm them and lead to indecision.
3. The person feels fully understood
Most professional people listen for problems to solve. Very few listen with the intent to understand.
I like the following quote:
"When I ask you to listen and you start giving advice, you have not done what I have asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
"When I ask you to listen and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as it may seem. Listen! All I ask is that you listen; not talk or do – just hear me." Ralph Roughton, M.D.
4. Stay in the world of your client
Imagine you have pain in your stomach, so you call a doctor for an appointment.
You get to the surgery and, without asking you why you're there, the doctor says: “Please, sit down and let me tell you about myself and what we can do for you.”
What would you think? Is your response going to be: “Wow, I am so glad to know this, my stomach is feeling better already”?
Value can only be created in your client’s world, not your's.
5. Needy is creepy
This is one of author and coach Steve Chandler’s favourite sayings.
Neediness comes in many forms – needing to be liked, fear of rejection, needing to be right, needing to be the expert, needing the business.
Any form of neediness will contaminate a relationship. Jim Camp, one of the top negotiation coaches in America said: "In order to avoid showing need, you must never feel it. You do not need this deal."
More business is lost through neediness than any other reason.
6. Make agreements, avoid expectations
This means making sure you have agreed what happens next at each stage of the process, so that you avoid expectations of what will happen.
Also, something I talk to my own clients about is ‘the half-life of enthusiasm’. Quite simply, enthusiasm fades over time, so be responsive to someone’s enthusiasm and act promptly.
Look at all the aspects of how you bring new clients onboard and try to eliminate any areas of friction, as well as exploring ways to increase value.