I‘ve had discussions with a lot of service providers who seem unsure as to exactly how their clients and customers come to the decision to work with them. They seem to think it’s a somewhat random process. A potential client either needs them or doesn’t and it’s the flip of a coin as to whether the person will become a client.
Yes and no.
There’s no foolproof way to know what someone will do and no airtight way to explain what motivates people to do what they do, but we do know a couple of things really worth knowing. It’s not really a random process. Multiple calculations are being made … some logical … some psycho-logical. And we can divine what most of those are. There’s a very useful and simple model that the persuasion process follows.
And you, as the person helping to define the problem and provide solutions, play a huge role in whether a prospect becomes a client beyond just telling them what you can do for them.
First the model:
- There has to be a perceived problem or need or nothing’s gonna happen. And it has to be a big enough problem or compelling enough need to induce someone to spend a significant amount of money with you.
- They have to see what you offer as a practical and workable solution / way to address the need. Do they trust you? Does working with you make sense and do they feel good about it? The answers to those questions … in one weighting or another (that’s where the mystery comes in) will produce a thumbs up or thumbs down.
- Finally, just having the prospective client thinking and feeling positively about things isn’t enough. They have to take action.
Your job then is to make sure they see the problem, see you as the solution, and actually pull the trigger.
There are several points in the decision-making process where you, as a savvy service provider, can help the buyer make an informed and positive decision for themselves.
You know better than anyone, based on your professional experience, the kind of problems would-be clients could face if they don’t address their particular problem / need. SO, make it crystal clear to them.
When people in your target market go looking for a provider, be easy to find. If you’ve developed your brand and optimized your marketing, including things like SEO and a referral network, you’re on the right track. And once you’re in discussion with someone, spend time building rapport, because people do business with people they know, like, trust, and have confidence in.
Much of that comes from a feeling they get from interacting with you. Rise above the competition … who can undoubtedly do the job to an acceptable level of satisfaction … by being someone the person just likes and feels good about.
Never let them exit your presence with unanswered questions if you can do anything about it. And don’t be shy about asking if they think you can do the job and is there anything that they’re concerned about that’s getting in the way of making a decision … regardless of whether that’s yes or no. And if you run out of time or they need time to think, schedule a time to continue the discussion. Don’t leave the ball in their court to call you back whenever.
Ask for the business. Once they’ve processed everything they need to consider, just come out and ask for the business. “So, what do you think, would you like to work together?”
And finally, stay close and connected, even once someone says yes, via continuing communication and face to face meetings if possible. It’s the professional thing to do … and don’t forget, clients are constantly being wooed by competitors. Send follow-up surveys or just make a phone call to make sure your client is satisfied.
There’s an element of mystery in most decision-making, but a whole lot of it can be understood and ethically, responsibly influenced by you … IF you know what to do.
What I’ve talked about here is a start.