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Communicating your value to clients with Steve Lishansky

Focusing on your clients instead of your firm is something I hound my clients to do in their written communications. It’s also important in your sales conversations, as Steve Lishansky of Optimize International reminded me in his presentation, “Get Paid For Your Value: How to Attract, Win and Retain Clients Who Happily Pay You What You Are Worth,” to the New England Chapter of the National Speakers Association on March 8, 2014.

Steve told a story that made his point. Imagine you meet with two designers to redo your kitchen. One launches into a discussion of his great, technologically advanced tools. The other starts by asking, “What do you want to accomplish with your kitchen?”

Which designer would appeal more to you? Is there anyone who wouldn’t prefer the second designer?

Lishansky shared several questions that can help you connect with new prospects. They include the following:

  • What’s the most important result you’re looking for?
  • What are your biggest opportunities?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • What are the most important measurements you’ll use to gauge your progress and success?

These questions place you on the “same side of the table” as your prospects, as together you uncover what matters to them.

This discovery also helps you to justify your fees. As Lishansky said, “when people see a chasm, they’re willing to pay you for a bridge.”

Image courtesy of Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make an email sandwich for introverts

Quiet influence: introvert's guide to making a differenceIntroverts like to think things over before they speak.

If you cater to their needs with an email sandwich, as suggested by Jennifer Kahnweiler in Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, you’re likely to have more productive exchanges.

Here’s what Kahnweiler suggests when you schedule a meeting or phone conversation:

Step 1. Write and send in advance an email with “all necessary background information for a discussion.” This lets your readers think about your agenda or ideas prior to your conversation.

Step 2. Discuss the topics with the other person in person, on the phone, or in some other “live” format.

Step 3. Send an email summary of your conversation’s key points. This helps the reader reflect “before committing to action,” as Kahnweiler says.

This email sandwich creates “thinking space for others,…especially…introverts,” says Kahnweiler.

As an introvert, I heartily endorse the email sandwich. I wish everyone would use this technique.

On the other hand, crafting an effective email sandwich takes time. You may choose to reserve it for high-stakes meetings or discussions that benefit from reflection. In addition, sometimes a quick phone call works better than an email.

If you’ve used an email sandwich with clients, prospects, or other important individuals, has it worked for you? I’m interested in learning from your experience.

 

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book.

Email vs. call vs. meeting with clients

Should you email clients or use some other form of communication?

In my opinion, it depends on client preferences, the nature of your communications, your strengths as a communicator, and your schedule. My thanks go to @Tbmanning who raised this issue in response to my question about email challenges for advisors.

Ask for client preferences

Ask your clients what type of communication they prefer. It’s great service to provide information in the manner they desire. Of course, if you have many phone-loving clients, this may not always be practical.

Consider the nature of the communication

The flurry of advisor phone calls during the 2008-2009 market downturn reflected the importance of “live” interactive communications about serious topics. On the other hand, you can’t get a form signed on a voice call, so send the form electronically or pull it out in person.

Play to your strengths

If you’re a smooth talker with horrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills, then you should favor the phone. On the other hand, if it’s hard to raise your voice above a whisper, go for written communications.

Work with your schedule

I know advisors who have 300+ clients or are so highly scheduled they can’t communicate until late at night. If you’re one of those advisors, you’ll need to favor emails or U.S. mail more than your peers.

YOUR tips?

If you have tips on picking the right form of communication, please share them in the comments.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net