Client Selection And Killing the Elephant In The Room – Jason Elkins

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Something crazy happens when you start your own business.  You become REALLY honest REALLY fast.

Honest with yourself.

Honest with your employees or partners.

Honest with your prospects.

Honest with your clients.

At least that’s what’s been happening with my team.

It’s not like I went around telling lies to everyone prior to starting a business  -  however your proclivity to telling the truth becomes heightened. In my past sales ‘jobs’ my main goal (outside of getting the deal) was to ‘glad hand’ and make everyone happy.  This caused problems with customers and internal team members from time to time because I was nervous to have the tough conversations – such as letting a client know know that their project was going to be late or that the new feature they requested was really expensive to add, or that their idea may completely fail.  My father called this ‘lying by omission’ – which is leaving out a factual detail deliberately that would drastically changed the meaning of what was said.

I was afraid of losing the deal.

Now, in my business, losing a deal might be the best thing that happens – it opens up the slot for the deal that’s a perfect fit!! We are so focused on finding the RIGHT clients that we aren’t able to be all thing to all businesses.

BOOK EXAMPLE
Recently, a prospect was asking about a family centered ebook, she wrote, that she wanted to put on a custom Facebook tab as a download for purchase.  My team analyzed it, and we told her “Based on our experience with ebooks, we think updating the images to reflect newer fashion styles (the images were a bit outdated) and charging an amount that fit a typical digital download price would be a better Facebook purchase model”.  She said she wasn’t willing to do that because of the ‘value of the information in the book.’  I then asked her the tough question… “How many of these books have you sold on your website over the last 2 years?”.  The potential client hesitantly told me the answer.  Based on the historic data and our current research, this project had a low probability for success, and we let her know that.  She said “You are the best option I have to test my theory and I want it on this platform.”

When we bring a new project in, we analyze the probabilities for success and failure, and communicate our opinions to the client.  We tell the customer the potential risks and rewards up front, and therefore remove any anxious conversations later. I never want to hear “I wish you would have TOLD me ___________.” I call this killing the elephant in the room.

I would encourage you to have the challenging conversations with your clients on the FRONT end of the deal, vs. working hard to simply ‘get the deal’ and hope things work out.

Jason | Transparent Social Media

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  • http://twitter.com/1ad_dad David Schwartz

    Jason, great post and so true. I appreciate the honesty that you offer clients. It would help the reputation of all people who practice marketing if there was honesty in the business. IMO, the biggest issue and complaint about traditional advertising agencies is that they push their agenda. And, thus they are the farthest thing from being honest to both clients and themselves. 

    Kudos to you and your team for being honest. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.elkins Jason Elkins

     David – Thanks for the kind words.  It’s tempting to try to categorize companies right away and roll in with a solution that you ‘know will work’ especially as you start to implement successful campaigns. We’ve learned we need to slow down and really listen before we jump to conclusions – and ask the tough questions of course.  :)   Thanks again for sharing the article and chiming in here!