Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Date Your Client: Soft Skills are Really Hard Core

Week of Valentine’s 2010

In my coaching sessions this month, several of my clients have wondered a couple of things: How do I get in front of my prospect? What do I do in the way of a follow up? I say: “Date your client.”

It is only fitting following Valentine’s Day, that we talk about dating your client; which allows for similar behavioral patterns you might show when you date. Following mindfulness and intentions that you may have had when you first were interested in someone, you court your client by thinking of them non-stop. In the first few days/weeks of dating, you learn everything you POSSIBLY can about the person. Then you ACT on this newly acquired information. “Dating” your client is not really different; both require you to be hard core with your soft skills.

What exactly are some soft skills?

Social Grace: From last year’s Marketing Mindfulness article: Coming Face-to-Face with Social Grace, I offered that social graces include: “personal thoughts that occupy the minds of our friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues. To the mail room clerk: "How was your brother's wedding this past weekend?" To the receptionist in the large building: "I thought of you on my run this morning; how did you like the new running club you joined?" To her client because the waitstaff was busy: "May I clear these dishes away so they do not interfere with the presentation you have?" To a neighbor walking the dog: "How did your Father's surgery go yesterday?" Social grace is the pinnacle of client-courtship; you are other-oriented with a laser beam focus.

Many soft skills require us to be exceptional observers who implement multiple sensory skills to discern what is going on in our interpersonal engagements. Why did your date suddenly get quiet (or is unavailable) might be equivalent to why has the prospect or client not returned your calls? ‘Just not that into you, strikes fear in many! That same physiological fear is elicited when the prospect or client keeps putting you off and rescheduling your appointments. If you have mindfully and authentically been other-oriented – hyper-focused on the client or prospect’s needs, then it’s time either keenly scrutinize your behavior for clues you may have missed, or it’s time to move on.

What happens if you need to break up with a client? If you are stood up on a date, how do you feel? I imagine no differently than if your appointment was cancelled or was a no show by a prospect or client. Is it time to break up? Maybe. Seth Godin says it best: “Firing the customers you can't possibly please gives you the bandwidth and resources to coddle the ones that truly deserve your attention and repay you with referrals, applause and loyalty.”

Whether you are marketing for new clients or continuing to court them using the 80/20 rule, your soft skills are imperative. To keep the relationship alive and well, keep a vigilant focus on the client; your thoughts, feelings and actions all align to this end. You must have the mindfulness of dating your client, forever.

Mindfully Yours,


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