Current and potential customers can tell us overstated stories. To attract our attention, negotiate business with us. And lead us on and on and on. So, why do we continue to believe them?
Until we don’t, anymore?
First of all, we are flattered that these customers contacted us. At this point, we accept their overstated stories as completely truthful.
We give them the benefit of our having absolutely no doubt about what they tell us. We want to do business with them, and so, seemingly they with us. That is a good thing, for us both. This connection signifies that we are doing our homework and are engaged in effective marketing. So are these current and potential customers.
As a result, we interpret our initial experiences as solid, positive mutual customer experiences.
Secondly, their overstated stories, accepted as accurate, ignite our excitement about the project or new relationship being offered us.
Thus, we begin to dream. Even to fanaticize how it is going to be, when we work with them. Now, a little bit of professional excitement and even mild personal euphoria are good things. After all, we work hard and put in those 10,000 hours and more, continuously refining our offerings. So, we take a mental victory lap or two inside our heads to celebrate what has yet to begin.
Then, we imagine how the initial and subsequent experiences with these customers eventually contribute to customer success.
However, our next steps regarding customers with potentially overstated stories become critical to the outcomes we produce.
Before moving another step forward with these customers, take a step back. Then, conduct some serious due diligence about the plausibility of their business case.
When potential customers tell me they are “poised to move to the next level,” their words raise a red flag. Before I develop a strategic business growth program to take them “there,” I want to see their books. Or, let’s say a client is frustrated with their career trajectory and wants me to develop their next-steps professional roadmap. From their perspective, they already lead their division. They cannot understand why their contributions remain unrecognized. However, their words, once again, raise a red flag.
Instead of rationalizing why we should implicitly believe our customers’ stories, jettison the euphoria. And clarify their context. Otherwise, our experiences in doing business with them may fall short of euphoric, in the long run.
Before doing business with potential, and even current, customers, take the time to validate their real reasons for contacting us. They may tell us overstated stories. In our excitement, we just may believe the entire story.
This is the point where Who We Are as Professionals of Worth kicks in. For starters, be skeptical and stay skeptical. Determine the factors contributing to their request.
- Is this company “poised to move to the next level” simply because their sales team had a few good years? However, the company has no idea why.
- Or, a new venture capital project is, in actuality, the resurrection of an old one which has outlived its credibility. Thus, there is no “next level” of funding for them to realistically qualify for.
- Also, an individual’s professional resume and LinkedIn profile misrepresent their capabilities and achievements. Alternatively, their education and certifications scream out a completely different skill set than the leadership track they so desperately want to target.
Before accepting a relationship to do business with clients, we owe it to ourselves to qualify them.
And even disqualify them. Or, perhaps, reframe their requests. Instead of becoming involved with customers’ overstated stories, focus on creating reasonable and feasible outcomes. Together.
It just could be that some customers overstate themselves because they feel if they tell us the truth, we will not want to work with them. In fact, truthful and transparent business relationships always work a lot better than getting half way through a project and discovering a tangle of overstated stories.
Developing the skill sets and acumen to work with clients on this transparent basis creates a more meaningful and enduring set of client deliverables – and clients. Time after time. Isn’t this the type of customer experience for customer success that underscores what we are all about?
Feeling frustrated by chasing opportunities, only to find out clients are telling you overstated stories? Learn how to tell the difference. Save valuable time and energy. Grow your businesses.
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Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ speaking programs leverage profitable collaboration to catalyze professional innovation and workforce engagement experiences which fuel customer success and business growth. Her professional speaker profile appears on the espeakers platform. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Babette’s Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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