clientI find that too many advisors of all stripes come to a conclusion about what their clients need before the client even walks in the door.  We all have spent lots of time and effort becoming experts at what we do.  At the same time, experts often jump to conclusions about what their clients want before they’re clear why it’s important.

I hope that you’re not in that group.  I hope that you’re looking for a system that will help you from making that mistake.  I know that in my case it’s way too easy for me to jump to conclusions.  For just that reason I came up with my client clarity strategy.

I start with what.

Yes, I know that Simon Sinek says we should start with why.  Why is really important.  In fact, why is probably the most important step.  It’s just not the first one.

When you start with what your client is trying to accomplish you’re allowing them and even forcing your client to state what the outcome is they want.  This doesn’t mean it’s the right outcome; it’s just the one your client thinks they want when you start the conversation.

Next, why makes it’s appearance.

After you’ve heard what your client wants then you get to start with why it’s important.  You don’t want to ask why once and move on.  You’re going to want to ask why at least four or five times.  The goal here is to find out what the core reason is your client wants to achieve a particular outcome. 

You’re never going to find that reason with the first why.  It takes time to drill down and every time you go a level lower both you and your client will gain more clarity about what’s important. I bet when you first start asking why multiple times you’ll feel a little uncomfortable.  Isn’t that how it always is when you learn a new skill?

Go back to what again.

This is the right time for us to really focus in on what the outcome our client wants is.  I usually find that when I’ve started with an initial what and then drill down using five why’s we’re going to need to revisit the outcome.  You’re going to almost always find there’s a more elegant outcome that your client will want.  You’ll find out the new outcome is one your client just might change their behavior to achieve.

Now, it’s time to figure out who needs to be involved.

Too many times goal processes move to what actions are going to be taken before we know who are the right people and appropriate roles that need to be filled.  If you figure out you’re going to need specialists it only makes sense that you help your client find those specialists before you decide what actions your clients are going to take.

This is important……don’t let the specialist change the direction.  They likely have a belief system in place that says they know better.  You’ve spent time understanding what and why.  Make sure you share that information with everyone on the team.  You’ll get a better outcome for your client.

Finally, we get to how we’re going to get there.

This is what I find interesting.  Most advisors I run across start with how the outcome will be achieved.  Those on the team and make assumptions about what and then come up with how.  I’m hoping that you love to see an elegant solution for your client.  I’m hoping that you’re willing to put off how you’re going to do it till the very end.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  When I put how off till the end, I help keep my ideas in check.  I get to use my expertise and I get to use it when it can do the most good.  I bet that if you try this planning method you’ll be amazed at the outcomes you get.  Give this a try and let me know what you find.


Topics: Creating Value, For business owners, for business advisors, Uncategorized, customers as experts, listening to customers, respecting clients

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