When you first sit down with a contact from your dream client’s company, they may not be willing to share with you the areas where they feel an improvement might be made–or where one might be necessary. They don’t yet know you, and you haven’t yet established a relationship or trust.
Your contact may be the person who chose their current provider. Your contact may have been the one to establish the processes and procedures that are presently creating challenges. As much as you may want to uncover their dissatisfaction or create it, the truth is more likely to be shared only when your dream client feels safe in doing so.
- Ask questions that aren’t judgmental: If your questions come across as judgemental, you alienate your dream client and make it impossible to share their dissatisfaction. You force them to be defensive instead of open. By removing any judgemental language from your questions, you make it easier for your dream client to share the truth.
- Don’t make assumptions: Assumptions can sound like accusations. Even if you have every reason to suspect that your dream client has a real challenge, and one you can help them with, making assumptions can cause them to retreat from the conversation. No one wants to be told that they have an ugly baby, lest of all by a stranger.
- Talk about the industry as a whole, not your dream client. If you ask questions about the common challenges you help to solve, frame those problems as industry-wide problems. If the whole industry struggles, it’s okay for your dream client to struggle to. It also helps them understand that you have experience helping resolve those issues.
- Leave your client a face-saving line of retreat. Always leave your client a face-saving line of retreat. They aren’t on trial, and you don’t need them to feel as if they are being accused.
If you follow these basic principles when meeting with your dream client, the conversation will go from “We are happy,” to “There are some areas that might be improved,” to “We have some real challenges,” to “We’re miserable and we need to change.” Once trust is established, this transformation can happen in 45 minutes.
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