It’s Time To Respect Your Clients

Post Series: Positioning

I’ve come to the realization that  most service-based business professionals don’t respect their clients. It could even be said that you hold contempt for the very clients on whom you depend on for financial success and economic well-being. That’s disturbing to consider, but I think it’s true.

How do I know you’ve lost respect for clients? Because you don’t tell them how your work benefits them. Furthermore, you’re willing to work on projects that are just outside your best skill set all because you fail to stand on solid positioning.

The evidence manifests itself so frequently that you’re immune to the signs and it doesn’t change your behavior. You fail to see how disrespectful this is to your customers.

The thought first crossed my mind when I met three professionals who all gave the exact same answer when asked, “so, what do you do?” To be fair, I expected some similarities. After all, it was a gathering for this specific profession. But come on. Give me something to go on here. Every answer was over-simplified and so generalized I learned nothing about who they were or how they worked, much less how they could make my business better by adding their valued expertise.

I used to think a simplified explanation was an attempt to bridge a gap in understanding and find common ground. Not anymore. It’s part of the seller-doer job to make sure potential clients can quickly figure out if we can solve the kinds of problems they are facing. Simplified answers are just lazy responses. A generalized response gives potential clients nothing to go on. It’s a useless exercise and you need to stop doing it.

Here is what usually happens. You use short phrases, single syllable words and dumb down your practice into specific tasks or nebulous categories. You’re just hoping for a glimpse of recognition in someone’s face. If the listener utters an “ohhhh,” while nodding their head, you feel satisfied that they comprehend what you do. But they don’t understand. They’ve just heard the buzzwords before and they’d rather not appear stupid.

How does kind of that interaction even remotely show respect for the potential client? It doesn’t. They don’t have any greater grasp of how you can help them than they did before they even met you. It’s a missed opportunity and a failure to demonstrate how much you can help.

Why make potential clients work harder than necessary to connect which services can immediately benefit them? Don’t make it that hard.

It’s your responsibility to make sure clients understand your are not merely one of the experts that can solve their problem — but you are the only one uniquely qualified to address it. That is the definition of proper positioning.

Yes, it is hard work to define your company positioning. It can feel risky and uncomfortable to stake a claim on a specific, skilled service and then remain committed to serve that niche without diluting it with adjacent skills that you don’t perform as well. But it is essential for your business health to focus on what you do best. It demonstrates how much you respect potential clients. Careful attention to your positioning mean clients spend less time trying to figure out if you can help. That’s a beautiful, valuable thing.

Show some respect. Figure out your positioning, and tell your clients what problems you solve.

Elke Giba

Elke is our chief facilitator — helping A/E/C clients uncover insights about customers and services to define a unique marketing position. She is equally at home in Dallas or Nashville, but oddly enough cannot two-step to save her life. When she isn't researching, interviewing or facilitating, she is practicing the delicious art of baking.

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