Change the question to get a different answer

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It’s frustrating when you want to help a client improve their business but they just won’t take your advice.

The explanations I hear range from “they don’t want to pay for it” to “they’re just not interested” but, while I accept that some clients aren’t really business people at all but simply workers doing a job, I don’t accept that the majority of a typical client base fall into this category.

We see business as important and so we see the advice that we give clients to improve their businesses as very important. However, clients don’t necessarily see it the same way.

To many, their business is not a priority in itself but more a means to an end.

Other dreams

They work hard at their businesses in order to fulfil other dreams. Typically these will be related to their family and to creating a better world for them but could equally be for a collectable car, a sick relative, a change of lifestyle.

Giving the client things to do within their business has little impact if their goals lie elsewhere. Indeed, they can be seen counter-productive to the client, taking up more time and money that they want to spend instead on other personal things.

To get a more positive response, you need to link your advise to what really matters to them so that they can see where the true benefits end up.

Business goals

For example, rather than asking a client about their business goals, ask instead what matters to them more than anything else in the world. Get them talking about their lives and sharing their personal goals. Then, by understanding those, you can introduce their business into the conversation but within the context of their personal world.

Advice to improve their cash flow becomes more about the money they can spend on the family holiday. The strategies for effective management become more about spending time with the kids.

The most effective strategy we ever used for ‘converting’ clients to a more business advisory mindset was to show them how to manage their resources in order to get a family holiday the following year. When advice equals tangible, meaningful benefits then clients will pay and come back for more.

Get to know their personal world, not just the business one.