Why You Need to Do What Your Clients Won’t Thank You For
Do you really want your clients to be successful? It occurred to me recently that this is a fundamental question in business. Are you willing to give your clients the news, advice and commentary that they don’t want to hear, but need to know?
I understand that you want to make the sale. I get that you want to keep the account. It’s okay to want to keep your clients sweet, but when it means you’re biting your tongue over something that that could make them more successful, it’s time to “man up” and give it to them straight.
Think For Them
Believe me, I know that some clients can be very forceful and try to lead your working relationship, but you are an expert in your field. They are experts in theirs. If you can think of improvements or new ways of doing things, it’s your responsibility to let them know. I’ll take this further. If you care about the success of your clients’ business, you will take responsibility for continuously innovating for improvement. Come up with the ideas they don’t have and pitch them.
Make the Right Decision for Them
There are times when your client will make the ‘safe’ decision. As a designer, I see this often. We might pitch 3 designs and the client will go for the safest or most conservative option. If you have strong reasons why a more daring approach is better for them, you have to speak up. But make sure you have some good, rational business-oriented reasons. Otherwise, why are you pitching that design? By the way, “it’s more cutting edge” is not a good reason, okay?
Tell Them When They Get it Wrong
This is particularly true for designers. Most clients do not have our specialist knowledge. If they say they want you to use Comic Sans in their Annual Report, you should know better than them. Tell them why it’s a better idea to use a different font, choose the right alternative and show them the difference. If they still don’t get it, you’re not communicating it properly. Do it better.
You may think your job is to fulfill the brief and get out of there. If you do, get out and stay out. Your brief is to make your clients successful.
Raise Their Expectations
There is only one right way to do this. You have to do it by being incredibly good at your job. Great is not good enough, be better. A rule of good business is to under-promise and over-deliver, but you won’t believe how few suppliers apply this simple rule. Be better than them by delivering the best goods or services you can. Be friendly. Be polite. Be pro-active. Never argue with your clients but if confronted, defend your position with dignity and certainty. Allow the quality of your work to make them understand that your advice is based on experience, expertise and a genuine desire to do your very best to ensure their success.
The Next Step
It’s very simple. If your clients are successful, you will be more successful. Do it for selfish reasons if you want: make them rich so they can spend more with you rather than your competitors. There is always only one sure way to guarantee repeat business: be the best option. Who wants to go with the second best option when they can have the best?