How Do You Know What a Client Wants?

There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed in businesses frequently over the years that I was reminded of over the past weekend.

It was beautiful weather in my part of the world, and I felt like taking a drive to this little waterfront seafood place located in a more secluded part of town. It’s a lovely area near a public park with a view of the bridge where you can sit outside and watch the boats go by.

Checking out the menu and not remembering if it was the cod or the halibut that was the bit more tender and flaky fish, I asked the server for her advice.

And instead of answering my question, she immediately pointed me to the halibut as being cheaper.

You see the problem, right? She answered a question I didn’t ask.

I didn’t ask what cost less. I wanted what I was looking for regarding flavor, texture and eating experience.

So her answer was irrelevant and didn’t help me in the least. It certainly didn’t help her employer.

It makes me wonder how many people are jumping to conclusions like this server (based on her own life circumstances most likely) without any indication whatsoever that a client is looking for cheap. I certainly see it a lot in our own industry.

If you are doing this, not only are you not really listening and paying attention to clients and instead presupposing what’s most important to them, you are shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to earning well.

Don’t assume that cheap is the first and only thing that clients care about. Write your marketing message to attract those who are more interested in the experience of working with you, how you can help them grow and move forward and how much better and easier you can make their business and their life (and weed out those who are only looking for cheap).

That’s where your value is.

2 Responses

  1. Dani says:

    Danielle, This is a great point. I wonder what made her respond that way?Part of me wants to learn the psychology behind why people sell themselves (or things) short. Might be something for me to look into.

    I wonder if it could have also been her not really knowing which one was more tender and flaky and responding with the only thing she knew! ( which is even worse ).

    Message is everything, I think I’ll go review mine to make sure it is written to attract those who want the experience rather than cheap! Thanks again!

  2. Oh, I just used this as one example. I’ve seen this behavior so frequently that I know it’s not about not knowing the answer. It really does have to do with defaulting to their own personal money story, operating by rote and not listening or being fully present.

    It’s not great service in any context, but particularly when you are in business, you will never move beyond your own poor financial circumstances if you keep thinking like a poor person. Our job as service providers is to HELP clients, not be cheap. Forget the money and focus on what the client wants and how you can help. State your price and let them decide. If you articulate your value well, price really is a secondary consideration.

    Plus, what might be expensive to the poor person, is not even a blip on the radar to someone who is not, particularly a client who simply wants what they want. People in our industry need to get off the money story and start focusing on how they help. As the saying goes, if someone wants something badly enough (like the client who NEEDS great support so he can start moving forward and getting ahead), they WILL find a way to pay for it regardless of their circumstances.

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