A client recently said to me, "I feel like I can tell you matters that are so private that I have not voiced them with my spouse/children/partners". "You never laugh at me, nor judge me or condemn me, and no one has ever fed back any of the issues, so you keep them to yourself." For years, I focused on the value-added I brought to my prospects and clients. I focused on me. The question I asked was what value I brought to my clients.
For years, I overlooked a very simple idea. My self-perceived value may not be the value my clients see in me. My ego blinds me. I am blinded by how I want to present myself. The articulation of my values may not ring true for my prospective client. In thinking about this dilemma, I remembered a fundamental lesson we teach at The Covenant Group. Start from the outside in. To that end, I thought, what if I instead asked my clients what they valued the most about me?
Most of us have enormous confidence in our own intuition. Behavioural science has taught us that we are susceptible to bias. As an entrepreneur, it is important that we test our assumptions. When I put my assumption to the test this is what I learned.
I thought Honesty might be number 1, but no, confidentiality is. When I asked my client for clarification, in different ways, the response was quite clear, "I feel like I can tell you matters that are so private that I have not voiced them with my spouse/children/partners". "You never laugh at me, nor judge me or condemn me, and no one has ever fed back any of the issues, so you keep them to yourself."
I thought knowledge might be number 2, but no, simplicity is. When I asked for clarification, in different ways, the response was quite clear," The Buy/Sell agreement, the succession plan, the conversations with the lawyers and accountant, the conversations with my spouse and children, were all so simple that arriving at the path forward was so much easier than I anticipated"
I thought service might be number 3, but no, caring is. When I asked for clarification, the response was quite clear, "I feel more liked and respected by you than by almost anyone else. Not only will you be there in my darkest hours, but you enjoy my successes as well. You are not afraid to tell me, lovingly, when I need to re-orient my thinking. When I need to stop making excuses and assumptions and get on with living".
These revelations are as daunting as they are heartwarming because the expectation level is so high. They were not what I expected, and I only asked my A clients so the rest may not feel this way. From my informal research, the message is loud and clear. People do not care how much I know. They want to know how much I care.
Find out how your clients value you and make that the basis of your value-added proposition. As always, you need to remember you are not alone. We are here to help you grow to be the best you can be.