Clients are demanding. They want what they want. Sometimes it feels as if they expect everything to be perfect, even when there is some part of what you do that is exposed to complexity, varying results, errors and, particularly, human errors.
Your dream clients don’t expect everything to be perfect; they struggle with the same things you struggle with in working with their own clients. They do, however, have expectations that you must meet.
Avoiding the big problems isn’t a long-term plan for either serving or retaining your clients. When there is an elephant in the room, pretending that there is no elephant only proves that you are not a big enough partner to help achieve results.
Your clients expect you to be there when the train comes off the tracks. When there are problems—and there will always be problems—your dream clients expect you to be there to resolve them.
Avoiding dealing with the problems make it seem as if you aren’t listening to your client. When they express to you that something isn’t working, pretending that you don’t understand the nature of the problem or failing to address it effectively means that you are ignoring your client.
Your clients expect you to listen to them. They expect you to hear them and they expect you to acknowledge that there are challenges and problems. Your client will know—and feel—that you are truly listening to them when you listen and acknowledge your understanding of their problems without being defensive (defensiveness is low on the maturity continuum, and is usually poorly received and produces poor results).
Caring and Owning Outcomes
Presence and listening are big part of demonstrating that you care. If your clients do not believe–and feel–that you care, all is lost (including, rather quickly, your client).
You care that your clients achieve the outcome that you sold them and that means you need to own the outcome. Caring means ensuring that you walk your walk and help your client produce the outcome that you promised and that you sold them.
All of this leads us to what your clients really expect.
Building an Action Plan That Leads to Improvement, and Take Action
Your clients, rightfully, expect you to work on the problems. They expect you figure out what needs changed, and they expect you to start making changes that will lead to improvements.
They expect to see a plan.
They don’t expect a perfect plan. If you have done a good job managing expectations, they may not even expect the plan to work the first time it is tried.
They expect to see you taking action.
They expect to see timely changes being made. It is your role to inform your client of what changes you are making, what result you believe will come of those changes, and when the changes will begin to be implemented. It is also your role to plan who will monitor the changes and their impact, as well as when you will get together to review the effect of the changes.
Serious problems? Immediate actions, reviewed frequently.
Less serious problems? Quick action, given a little more time before review.
Regardless of the size or nature of the problem, this process needs to be repeated over and over again until you get things right.
This is what your clients expect. It’s not perfection, but it is what will allow you to retain your clients. It will make you someone worth working with.
Is it more likely that your clients expect perfection or that you could improve how you handle their problems and complaints?
Where should you be when your clients have problems? Where do they need you to be?
How do your clients know that you are listening? How do they know you understand their problems and the implications of those problems?
How do your clients know that you care about them and that you care to help them by improving your performance wherever it may need to be improved?
What do you need to provide your clients in the way of a plan? How do they know what changes you are making and what on what timeline?
Who do you clients expect to see overseeing these changes and owning the outcomes?
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Filed under: Sales 3.0