Understand What The Client Goes Through And You Just Might Get More Of Them
Best Practice Advice & Strategic Issues

Understand What The Client Goes Through And You Just Might Get More Of Them

April 17, 2015

by Tony Vidler

Providing advice to new clients is often an incredibly protracted and frustrating affair…

The frustration comes about because we feel that after al the time spent learning about their situation and aspirations, and then carefully constructing a systematic approach to help them achieve their objectives, it is all a bit of a “no brainer” isn’t it?  The plan is logical right?

It just makes sense…..so why can’t they see that?

The fact is they can see it, but what we often fail to appreciate as advisers is the emotional journey the client is going through during the advice process.

What we are dealing with at the recommendation phase is often “shock” or “avoidance” behaviour.  It isn’t about logic or common sense….it is about emotions and people adapting and adjusting to new information.

All the old-school “objection handling” sales techniques that never really worked that well still won’t work well.  Trickery….pressure….glib lines….they don’t assist someone grappling with the shock of finding out they are a lot further away from self mastery than they imagined.  They do not help people face the issues and move into “acceptance”.

The concept of the learning curve (as I understand it) came out of work on psychological modelling by Kurt Lewin in the early 1950’s, and then that was combined with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ “grief model”.  The end result was a graphical depiction of the emotional journey people go through over time when suddenly faced with a new reality that doesn’t match their established perception of their own skill or position.

We professionals reacted the same way when we had to learn some tough new technical material, or had to face some new regulatory requirements….shock, anger, avoidance….all before we can get to acceptance.  Only when we get to that stage can we begin working out how to adapt and use the new information, leading us to test and try variations before finally settling upon how to implement it best.

It is the same for our clients much of the time.

Therein lies one of the “secrets” of successful selling: understanding the emotional journey you are asking the customer to go through, and more importantly, understanding where they are on the journey at any given time.  Giving customers the recommendation and then giving them time, and then space, and THEN supporting information and attention works because it matches their needs as they go through the emotional learning curve.

The amount of time, and the amount of space, will vary from person to person of course.  Some human beings make great fighter pilots, and others don’t.  One of the differences is how quickly the fighter pilot moves to “acceptance” – it is literally within seconds on information that would paralyse others forever.

That example is an extreme one of course, but serves to highlight that the process is essentially the same, it is simply the time scale which changes for different people.

You will convert more prospects into clients if you consider carefully how much time each needs to absorb new information – some of which will be challenging to their self-perception – and understand the emotional journey they are undertaking.  Get that balance right and you will get more clients.

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