My client said something remarkable to me yesterday. We were standing at the counter of her building department waiting our turn to speak with the head of building to determine if he would grant her a retro permit. (Retro permits have become a regular part of my business lately, but that’s another story.) She looked at me and said that she was happy to be where she was, doing what she was doing. Who says those words when they are standing where we were standing? Most people would rather be anywhere else!
This lovely woman is at the back end of a difficult divorce, she’s selling the home she raised her son in, she’s dealing with some serious health issues, and she was out in the world taking care of business. Just like regular folk. She felt normal rather than sad or sick or hopeless. Pulling permits was outside of her wheel house, so she had hired me to do the drawings and lead the charge through a process that is unfamiliar to her. So, in her mind, she was able to get out and ‘be normal’ because of me. For her this was a great success.
it’s not about eliminating the pain
If you read most marketing rags, you will come across ‘pain points’ over and over. You will be told to look for pain points in your clients, or potential clients. Figure out your clients’ pain points, offer them a solution to alleviate the pain, and you will gain yourself a client for life. Looking for pain to serve your bottom line seems awfully opportunistic at the least, and draconian at its worst. And a bit off the mark if you ask me.
Rilke said ‘let everything happen to you: beauty and terror’.
You need more than a pain point to serve your clients well. To serve your clients you need a deeper understanding of their needs, an empathic view of the resolution they are looking for. Don’t assume clients necessarily want us to eliminate the pain, or solve the pain, or make it disappear. Sometimes they need us to teach them to deal with the pain, guide them through the pain, or accompany them on their journey.To serve your clients you need ...an empathic view of the resolution they are looking for.… Click To Tweet
see the need
As we go about the business of making a living, we are also in business to provide something to our community, our world, that is useful. Something that makes lives more easeful perhaps, rather than painless. It wasn’t pain that my client hired me to resolve for her. She hired me to guide her, to help her to achieve success over a hurdle that she didn’t know how to conquer on her own. And in so doing, she felt empowered. Her empowerment has gained me a devoted client, not my ability to pull a permit.
fill the need
In addressing any client, we need to look beyond the pain and understand where they want to be on the other side. Then we can step in and be of service. That is where our story needs to begin....we need to look beyond the pain and understand where they want to be on the other side.… Click To Tweet
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