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It’s All About Me


By on February 15, 2008

NO it Ain’t

Fair Warning:

Reading this post, while useful, just might be painful.The inspiration for it came from a recent training session I attended with the One Page Business Plan (OPBP) organization. Jim Horan, founder of OPBP, brought this topic up and the call suddenly turned quiet as many of us, including me, realized we are indeed guilty of this symptom of the “It’s All About Me” attitude.

The good news is, once recognized, this sin can be avoided, leading to more fruitful client meetings and better clients. Most of us have grown up with an ‘It’s All About Me’ attitude. How and why this is so, is not as important as what we can do to learn an ‘It’s All About The Client’ attitude. This may sound easy, but it’s not.

Despite our best efforts it is natural, especially when we are nervous, to be distracted by our insecurities and focus on ourselves.For instance when meeting a new design prospect, especially if we are not prepared with questions to draw them into conversation about their business, we may get nervous and rush things. That means we start talking instead of listening and rush to show our portfolio.

This puts us squarely into the ‘All About Me’ zone and risks turning our prospect off before we even know what they need. Let alone whether they really are a good fit for our design firm. This ‘All About Me’ perspective is particularly insidious and often manifests itself in overly presumptive behaviour.

You say that does not apply to you, you are never presumptive when in front of a prospect!

Hmmm…do you ever:
* Get tired of listening to the endless stories and complaints of your prospect…and just want to get on with talking about exactly what design project they want right now?

* Present your solutions right up front because you have lots of design experience in their industry and know what works?

* Just know you need to get some new projects now? Want to get to “yes” as fast as possible?

* Find yourself day-dreaming or drifting off in front of your prospect?

These are a few of the clues to help recognize presumptive behaviour. When you begin to feel or act like this, you have moved into being presumptive…which inevitably kills the deal or seriously limits your chances to do good work with this client.

What are some of the techniques for avoiding presumptive behaviors?

* Stay curious! Assume nothing! There is undoubtedly something for you to learn from this conversation.

* Ask questions…particularly if you think you know the answers.

* Pay attention to how much talking you are doing! In the early discovery phase if you are speaking more than 20% of the time, you are talking too much. When you begin to explore solutions the conversation can be 50/50. Just about the time you are ready to present your portfolio, take a deep breath and ask another question!

* Never assume your understanding of their business problem/opportunity is right …until they tell you you’ve got it right! Then ask them to explain to you why it is right!

Is your prospective client boring or irritating you? It’s probably a clue this is not the right client for you to work with! Ask some provocative questions. Still bored…bring the meeting to a close! Tell the prospect you don’t believe you can help them. Life is too short to work with the “clients from hell.”The faster we can recognize when we are shifting into the ‘All About Me’ zone the more successful our prospective client conversations will be.

This means shifting from: I’m the reason for this meeting, look at my portfolio! To, I’m here to help my prospective client uncover their design needs. I will do my best work by facilitating their discovery, not by presenting my truths and good ideas before I know if they are appropriate.I hope I have not been overly presumptuous that this subject would be of interest to you.