We seek to help our clients or prospects solve things. We want them to buy our product or service because we know it will solve their problems. Change their outcomes. Fix something that's busted. Cure what ails them.
By the very nature of who we are, we become "invested" in them and our processes. Because we get invested in our processes, there are times when we find it difficult to separate the "me" from "them."
It's Not About You
There's a near-invisible line that we face when serving our clients. It's hard to find and easy to cross. For lack of a better term, let's call it the "ego-line." We pass the ego-line, and suddenly it becomes all about us.
You can tell when you cross the ego-line when you start asking questions that point inward.
Why don't they follow my process?
Don't they see this is a great deal?
Why is this so hard if I can do it?
When are they going to listen to what I have to say?
Why won't they buy this when I need them to buy it?
The questions all point at "my" and "me" and "I." They are framed in blame and point the finger right at the client. You know you're thinking "what the hell, why won't they just do xxx!?"
Let's try something. Take your pencil (yes, I use pencils) and draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Title that line "ego-line." At the top of the paper, and left of the ego-line write PROCESS ME. At the top right, write PROCESS THEM.
In the left column, I'd like you to list the processes that apply specifically to your job. As an example, if you are in sales, list the steps in your sales process. List them all as bullet points. Highlight the bullets in your list where you expect the client to take action.
Now, close your eyes and take seven breaths. After the seventh breath, open your eyes and pick up your pencil. In the right column, write what each bullet means from the client's perspective. In other words, look at your bullet list from the outside-in. Ask, does this bullet serve me, or does it serve the client? Does this bullet fit within their list of steps?
Be brutally honest. If it doesn't fit, make a note. If you don't know, ask the client.
The last step is the hardest. Now, circle the bullets in your list that have been your fail-points. You know, the places where things have broken. The places where clients or prospects stop returning your calls or answering your emails. The places where deals stall and die. The places where you are unseated by your competitors.
Make It About Them
With the ego-line paper in hand, grab one more piece of paper, and write out your action plan.
Where are you going to change your approach? What do you need to do to adjust your mindset? How do you engage them in a conversation about their bullet list? How do you share your bullet list with them? Are you willing to be transparent and, as a result, set expectations for success?
How are you going to make it about them?
Erase the Ego-Line
One last tip.
Processes should be evaluated and changed over time. If, when you complete the ego-line exercise a few times, you discover the same bullets being circled over and over ... CHANGE THE PROCESS.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. (Misattributed to Einstein)
Now, erase your ego-line. Let me know how the exercise works for you!