Unless you’re in the business of crisis management, there aren’t too many times when you can take a situation on face value and get to the heart of the problem.
Really understanding what’s obstructing your clients success takes more than an initial meeting or a quick read of their website. Often you’ll find that much of what is really at the nub of the problem has been around for so long that it’s become normal. A bit like that DIY job that still hasn’t been done in your home… until it really becomes a problem, you’ll find a way to work around it.
It’s always easier to look at a situation with our own subjective views and make of the situation what we want it to be based on what we want out of it. If it’s a client who we’ve failed to get under the skin of, it’s all too easy to recognise the symptoms we’re familiar with and not seek out the cause which we are often initially unaware of.
If you are lucky enough to have a prospective customer or existing client approach you for help with a problem, make it your job to assume that it’s just one of many. Get into the habit of asking “what else?” so that you end up with five or 10 more than you started out with. Often you’ll find that points seven to 10 have been problematic for so long that they’ve simply found a workaround. After a while, that workaround becomes normal and stops being treated as a problem.
Don’t just jump on the first problem presented to you. Whilst you may get a PO in time for closing off your sales by Friday, you may also miss an opportunity 10 times bigger.
Like you, see your clients as onions with lots of different layers to cut through. How you peel them back will take common sense, tact, and experience, but it’s a craft well worth pursuing in order to play the long-game needed in this fiscal climate.
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology organisations redesign their business models to help them build better relationships with their customers. You can follow the team on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.