The customer is not always right. You are not a customer service representative. You are a salesperson. And it is not the job of the salesperson to tell the customer that they are right or that they can have what they want (at least not the way they want it).
When you call a company for support, you expect the support person to help you get the outcome you need. It’s not the customer service person’s role to tell you that you are wrong, that you can’t have what you want, or that you are wrong for even wanting whatever it is that you want. That’s not what a customer service person does. They give you the help you need.
If you are a salesperson, acting like a customer service rep will make you a weak, ineffective salesperson, or what we would call an order-taker. Your relationship with your client is different, and you have a greater responsibility. This often means you have to tell your client that they are wrong, and that they can’t have what they want the way they want.
Dear Client, You Are Wrong.
You want to be consultative. You want trusted advisor status. You want to create the highest level of value. If you want these things, you are setting the bar very high for yourself.
Your client doesn’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know what other companies are doing. They don’t know what you are doing for your other clients. Most of the time, they don’t know what all of the options for producing better results are, and a big part of the reason they don’t is because they don’t know that they should be dissatisfied.
You have to tell your client that what they believe isn’t true–when it isn’t. You have to tell them the truth about where they can produce better results. And you have to tell them how they can do better, which brings us to the second part of your responsibility.
Dear Client, You Can’t Have What You Want.
Any of your clients can have anything they want, provided they are willing to do what is necessary. And, if it were up to them, most of them would want the better results you promise without making the changes they need to make–and without investing a penny more than they are investing now.
You do your client a disservice when you allow them to believe that they can have what they want without changing what needs to be changed. You have to tell your client what needs to change, why it needs to change, and how to change it.
You aren’t helping your client by allowing them to believe that they can have what they want without investing more. You have to tell them why they have to spend more and what that spending gets them. That’s helping them. Letting them believe a lie is not.
If you want to be consultative, a trusted advisor, a peer, then you can’t act like a customer service representative. You need to be liked, which means you do all of this with a good spirit, and you need to be trusted, which means you don’t shy away from talking about the big issues.
You aren’t going to lose your relationships by tackling difficult issues. You’re going to lose your relationships by avoiding them.