And that’s a wrap on 2023! What a year, right? My work saw clients struggle with and overcome many obstacles. But the work is not done! As we look to 2024, I want to give you two key recommendations from my many observations and development engagements this year.
Don’t Focus on Nice and Polite
Stop initiating and cultivating relationships by being polite and nice. Usually what this translates to is saying YES to everything. I’d rather see you start a relationship by being fair and objective. I’m not saying you should avoid being polite or friendly. But you must be realistic and expect that they will be, too. Are their goals out of line with their budget? Does the scope of the work exceed your team’s capabilities? Approach relationships objectively and fairly to determine what matters most to your client’s business AS WELL AS YOUR BUSINESS. Hey, you are not a non-profit…you are in business to drive revenue just like they are.
Therefore, in the New Year, finding what is most important to your client/team and the impact of not achieving it is critical. Then, and only then, can you be fair, objective, and urgent with your solutions.
Here is a tactical tip to make sure that when you are speaking with a client (current or potential), you are keeping them focused on their main goals. When responding to them, start with “As you said…” and then remind them about what they said was critical. You can then base your recommendation on that. You’ll keep their attention, let them know you’ve been paying attention, and structure the conversation about the most important issues they are facing rather than getting into the weeds with every little problem.
Trust Yet Verify
Trust yet verify what clients say. Trusting a client is okay, provided they’ve earned that trust. Often, they’re evasive and peripheral. You must discover why and move them to a place of discomfort. Yes, you read that right…discomfort. This is an art. An art I enjoy teaching. It’s not like a lawyer cross-examining, but it is a heartfelt interest in defining a client’s CORE problems. And many times, they want to hide those core issues, not wanting to admit they exist.
Example: Your client might say “Our last agency didn’t get the work done we needed. They spent way too much time on small projects that didn’t move the needle.” To which you might say, “Who was giving them instructions on what to do? Oh…I see. Everyone had access and could direct them. Do you see that they were only doing what they were told? The lack of leadership on your team seems to have created an ‘every man for himself’ environment. Is that what you wanted?”
Sure, that’s an uncomfortable thing to say to a client. But it gets to the truth. From there, you can have an honest conversation about real issues from which you can make a well-informed recommendation.
In 2024, I’m looking forward to more and more people experimenting with the above from my coaching and facilitation, along with being more commercially candid. As long as you prove you care, you can lead people and sell anything.
Thank you for all your trust and followership this year. It means the world to me. Happy New Year!