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Trial chapter -getting clients a guide Document Transcript

  • 1. This is a trial chapter for a project to model business success. Getting Clients a Guide I have met many people who dream of running their own business. To make a successful and viable business, no matter how great the ideas, products or services, clients are essential. Getting clients is not just an issue for start-up businesses. It is an activity that needs to occur at all stages of their life cycle. Forget about it and a business will stagnate. For a business to realise its full potential and take off to the next level it needs to continually grow its customer base. Failing to get enough clients to launch a business or enable it to breakthrough to the next level and make real money is where many fall down. This is often not through lack of effort, and even with a determination to succeed many business people feel in the dark about the best strategies to use. This article describes successful strategies for getting clients that I learnt from meeting and modelling experts within business that can be applied by anyone, even me. Before we get started, let me introduce modelling to you. Modelling is accelerated learning. Modelling provides a way to access knowledge that traditional learning tools do not. The technique enables the full behaviour of an expert to be replicated by looking not only at the things you see and hear them do but also into the hidden things that happen inside their head. The hidden elements can be our most powerful motivators. The things we say to ourselves or the images we create in our heads are often what drive us to achieve our goals. However, if we are not aware of how to use our self-talk or imagery, it is all too easy to allow our inner self to say things or conjure up images that hinder us and prevent us from achieving. Imagine then if instead of the limiting thoughts you currently store in your head, you could learn and apply the self talk, the motivational images and beliefs that drive a successful business person to achieve. Consider, how much more successful you could be. When modelling others, it is important to model people who are experts and learn from the best; otherwise it’s possible to install behaviour that is sub optimal. When I first discussed the concept of learning more about getting clients, a number of business people were referred to me that were seen by others as experts in getting clients. These business people came from different industries and had different personalities. Yet, what I found really remarkable was how similar their strategies were in getting clients and remember; these guys are really good at it. Their values, beliefs and strategies were so comparable that I am sure their knowledge captured within this article will be a great foundation for people like you and me to use.The first step is to elicit the values and beliefs of the experts. Who we are and what we hold dear help to define both our personal values and personal beliefs. There are distinct differences between the two although values and beliefs are often so tightly interwoven I will take a step back to 1
  • 2. define what I mean by values and beliefs and hopefully add some understanding of the differences between these ideas. Personal beliefs are statements, principles or doctrines that individuals choose to accept as true. While others may argue their credibility or if they are real, if an individual genuinely believes in a cause or a feeling, they will act as such and this can be credited as a personal belief. Personal values are more of a measurable discipline. They have relatively little to do with outside influences. While personal values are definitely woven into personal beliefs, values are personal choices that are never really argued, because they simply define who we are as individuals. Personal values, in a sense, define the worth of our being and set out the importance of our personal beliefs. Values are a set of concepts or rules that are important, and frequently provide our intrinsic motivation They can be considered a framework or a collection of principles that can guide behaviour toward goals. They can be defined as: • “a collection of guiding, usually, positive principles; what one deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct” The Wiktionary • “the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.” Thedictionary.com The expert’s key values • Financial reward and the importance of gaining control of your life and achieving financial freedom. • Relationships. Relationships are about building strongly for the future. The term networking was described as too superficial, too short term and possibly too mercenary and was discounted by the experts. • Personal integrity, credibility and a strong personal reputation. There is strength in knowing who you really are and being confident to steer your own direction. • Serving others to make a difference. By responding positively to the needs of others reward will follow. • Continual development and growth in yourself and others. • Having fun. (I am particularly glad to see this one!) Beliefs From the interviews, a range of beliefs shared by the experts around getting clients became evident. As I have suggested, a belief is something that someone knows is real or true based on how they interpret the world around them. We create these rule of thumb ideas about situations, people and their thoughts or even our abilities or competences and use them to help us make decisions and handle situations. Sometimes we create unhelpful beliefs that 2
  • 3. stop us doing things or lead us to handle a situation ineffectively. Fortunately, we can change our beliefs, rules and generalisations we make in our lives. The following beliefs may not be your beliefs. These are the beliefs shared by experts in successfully getting clients. However, if they are your beliefs, this may be an important discovery. In the following paragraphs, I have kept to the language used by the experts as closely as possible in an attempt to give the best insight into their world. Firstly, the desire for financial reward and self-worth underpin our need for our business to succeed and for that to happen we know we need to develop a relationships to get clients and develop a customer base . Are the people you mix with decision makers able to make commitments that can be honoured and rewarded? Beliefs around why getting clients is worthwhile At the root of getting clients is the idea that meeting new people is exciting and fascinating. Meeting people and turning them into clients is the most satisfying part of business because it adds variety, the potential for learning and the possibility of demonstrating personal worth by making a difference to the client and their world. It is a chance to get out there and get a different perspective. Building firm foundations Central to getting clients is developing and building a relationship. A good relationship will result in positive developments, future work, new leads or business opportunities. To build a relationship it is important to understand where the client comes from. Breaking this down a bit, this means knowing and understanding their culture, traditions, rituals and behaviours. When meeting a client, focus is vital. Focus on the client and show a genuine interest in the client beyond just business. There is a need to engage fully in them and see, hear and feel how they interpret the world. By treating them as important individuals, beyond simply the work context, it is possible to build a long term, valuable relationship. Potential clients are more than just a commodity and they need to see that you truly believe they are too. Conversation therefore should cover areas such as their purpose (at work and in life), people important to them (family, friends and colleagues), passions (things that can really fire up someone and get them going) and pleasure (life, hobbies, work and dreams). This is not idle, directionless chit chat however. Building a relationship is more than being sociable, you need to be focussed on an outcome and have a clear picture of where you are going and where you are taking your business. Be credible Credibility is important in gaining respect from the client. Respect provides the firm foundation from which a potential relationship can be built. One way to be seen as credible is to be introduced from another business person or 3
  • 4. intermediate. Respect and credibility are also built by being open and honest, by straight talking and being reliable and consistent. Talk with clarity and be open and honest about your strategic direction and your big picture. You will get respect when you speak of your future with confidence and passion. Remember building a relationship is not about blagging or being a cowboy and it is not about sales. In any strong relationship, partners want success for each other. You need to really want your partners to succeed and when they do achieve; celebrate and congratulate their successes. Why you Firmly believe the client is coming to you for your expertise, knowledge and your ability to solve their problems. Have a self belief in your knowledge and abilities. Believe that you are the best placed to unlock new possibilities for your client and their business to really make a difference. Understand your client’s world Finding out about their business is fun and provides an opportunity for both you and your client to learn, develop and grow. To get into the problem firstly, you have to get into the client’s world to understand their business and the issues and barriers they hear, see, and feel. Initially, stick at a high level clarifying and understanding their key concepts and frameworks. In the discussion listening keenly is vital. Ensure you interact with the client, even interrupt and add and build on the conversation to make sure you understand their world from a number of different perspectives. Add value into your client’s world Pulling out the root cause of the client’s problems is like being a detective driven by curiosity. The intention should focus on how best to serve the clients needs. It’s like a puzzle to search out the best approach, hunt for the key issues and see the fruit or goal to aim for and harvest. In the detective role, use your senses to see, hear and feel the clues. The really meaty, contentious or difficult issues are the most fun to go for and address. Possibility focussed discussions are exciting. There is a real buzz to be had in looking for the doors of possibility to open and working out where and when to drop in a seed of an idea and then watch how that seed grows within the conversation. Working together to iteratively build upon an idea together really engages the client. Involving others is more enjoyable than lone thinking and the results are also better when different views and perspectives are brought together to produce a more fulsome debate and richer ideas. There is excitement and a thrill in doing something that has not been done before, trying to do new things and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone. In these discussions you bring your knowledge, skills and attitude and provide free consultancy. 4
  • 5. Nail an outcome Getting to the nub of the problem is a thrill. It is important to get to the point of agreement about it and move forwards. In the negotiation be assertive and in control to get to the outcome that benefits both parties. After the meeting, follow up is essential. Not too intently but with a sense of space. Perhaps catch up over a good coffee or a meal. Meta Programs Meta programs are the specific filters we use to interact with the world. They edit and shape what we allow to come in from the outside world. They also mould how we communicate with others and how we behave in the world. During the process, I made an assessment of the meta programs centred around how the experts motivated themselves, and their working traits. Although this study does not provide empirical evidence, there were a range of commonalities between the experts’ meta programs that are at least, interesting. The consistent ones included having: • A proactive nature; an approach that grabs the initiative and get things started, unconsciously. An approach that shuns sitting back waiting for something to happen. • Motivation mainly toward an objective and toward a goal. Towards people motivated to have a go, to get, achieve and attain. • An external reference point to assess performance, how well you are doing and to make judgements on progress. These experts used visual feedback (body language) cues from clients, from conversation and understood that repeat business is a positive external feedback too. • A view framed in opportunities and possibilities. Doing things in a different way not constrained by or contained within process, thinking outside the box. They are people who prefer development and set up, they dislike routine work, and will bend or break rules. They will commit to new projects and are always looking for next fresh market because this is more interesting. • A desire that looks for improvements, ways to get better and do things differently. This isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bathwater and it isn’t about flogging the same approach. This is about effectively managing risks and building toward a future that is more controlled, relaxed and financially secure. • An ability to engage people and to show emotion and be animated. It is about knowing how well communication is going both consciously and based on unconscious signals. They do not come across as cold and emotionless. • A cool persona under pressure, being able to focus on the issues in hand and handle the quantitative and qualitative information, yet still keeping an awareness of emotions and an ability to show empathy to others. • A people focussed manner that recognises people have needs and understands we are humans first and not automatons. 5
  • 6. • Sight of the big picture first. They are able to prioritise actions that keep moving toward the vision. They are good at getting things up and running ahead of what they would consider wasting time to perfect all the details. Strategies Strategies are a sequence of external experiences and internal representations used to plan methodologies that can consistently produce specific results. We have strategies for everything we do; strategies for love, learning, decisions, health, wealth, relaxation, boredom to name but some. What strategies do you currently use in getting clients? You may struggle to answer that question right now. However, by reading through the process used by my experts, you might get an insight into how you currently go about handling clients. The strategies described here are not the only approach. But they do work. Why not try these, see how they fit for you. You can then polish and improve them or maybe remove idiosyncrasies to design strategies that fit you best and give you the most excellent results. Motivation strategy in preparation for the meeting Before meeting clients, build your confidence and energy by creating a picture in your mind of the client as you would expect them to be when everything is going well and you’re really getting along. See that everyone is relaxed and the body language is being unconsciously matched and mirrored. See the movements associated with an animated discussion (In the diagram this is Vc or visually create an image). When the picture looks right, imagine all the sounds that indicate that the meeting is going well and agreements are coming. (In the diagram this is indicated by Ac or Auditory created). As you notice the right positive picture and sounds, say to yourself “I am ready” or “let’s go” and perhaps “I can get a business relationship going” (Indicated as Ad auditory digital or logical self talk). Once this stage is complete this should inspire a feeling (K for Kinesthetic) of confidence 6
  • 7. Diagram of the motivation strategy Vc Ac Ad K Visualise the Hear the laughing Say to yourself, I Feel the smiles and and the discussion. am ready to build a confidence well laughing. See Hear it building. relationship lets up from the positive body Hear the see if they are stomach and language shared excitement in the willing the tingling of by you and the voices excitement and client curiosity Guilt is absent Strategy for the building a relationship During the meeting, the following strategy is run and run as a loop. The strategy is there to give feedback on progress in the building of a relationship. If the information at each stage is not there, the strategy cannot complete. This gives a clear indication that the approach needs to be changed. When the strategy is able to complete, the strategy builds and strengthens the positive emotions in a feed forward loop. Diagram for the strategy to build a relationship Vx Ax Ad K Vx visual Ax Auditory Ad Auditory digital K Kinesthetic external external They look They sound right “There is value A feeling of Loop to relaxed, they are here” curiosity and start attentive, they excitement look like me Laughing, the The conversation is “We understand Wow Loop to conversation is building, language each other” A feeling of start flowing between is congruent, there “This is going well” confidence is the sound of “How can I help excitement them” 7
  • 8. The values, beliefs and strategies described here give an insight into the mindset and thought processes used by businessmen well versed in getting clients. I hope they provide a guide or an inspiration to your world and help you climb up a key step in business success. I would like to thank the business men who were recommended to me and gave up their time freely to be a part of this article. Matt Stevens Matt is a business consultant who has recently set up Quest, an employee engagement agency. He left Lancaster University in 1999 with a degree in politics and international relations and worked for Norwich Union until 2005 when as a coach and communications consultant he worked for companies like Aviva, RSA Insurance, E.ON and the Housing Association Home. In 2005 Matt also helped establish Global, a faith-based charity that works in the heart of communities providing activities to help reduce levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. Anthony Main. Anthony Main founded Web DynamiX more than 7 years ago driven by his passion for the internet. He could clearly see then the potential the web could offer businesses as a marketing and sales tool. Anthony has led Web DynamiX to be a company that takes customers requirements from initial design through to finished product and, using the latest technologies, delivers customer centred web tools and services. 8