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In Your Clients Shoes

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Owning a business, directing business operations and managing a team, all these roles involve communicating and selling the organisations vision, whether that be internally to employees, or externally to potential clients.

Employees should be agile enough to ‘put themselves in the shoes of their client’, however from experience I know this is not often the case. Many times I have been with colleagues who attend a meeting and do not even listen to what the client in front of them is saying. Often they have prepared (and sometimes even rehearsed) what they are going to say before even meeting a client. They may be technical experts, sometimes offering product information to an exquisite standard. However, without stepping into your clients shoes, you really cannot even begin to imagine what they are thinking or feeling– without that how do you know where to start? There are many techniques taught within sales training and relationship building designed to help deal with this scenario by asking the right type of question. How powerful would it be to enact that prior to the meeting so you can be prepared to handle any conversation regardless of the direction it takes? 

Ever heard of perceptual positioning? A methodology which is taught as part of NLP Practitioner training. This is a robust technique that can be used solo or within a group setting in teams. A methodology which helps refocus the opinions of others, and has helped me extensively within corporate environment. 

To give you a real life example. The day had been long, and I was asked to join a conference call late at night. While being there had no real value to me personally, it was important from a relationship management perspective.  During the early stages of the call, a conflict between the multinational organisation and our team arose. They couldn’t agree on some specifics, and I was essentially being told what decision senior leadership had taken.  I disagreed with the approach, but unfortunately, I was outnumbered as everyone else on the call agreed.  So instead of doing what I would always have done and argued my point, I simply asked a one question....

“Imagine you are a fly on the wall at the next review meeting. Now imagine the team are saying ‘thank you for that business, what is next on the list that we can work on together? ‘

I was pointing them at position 1 and 3 of the Perceptual Position – ‘in their shoes’ and that of ‘a fly on the wall’.  In other words – other perspectives. The call went silent, for a moment (I actually thought my connection had gone, or maybe someone had muted my line…but then the silence broke). “Interesting point replied one colleague…that would of course be good for us” it was like a lightbulb moment.  Needless to say, the entire team changed their mind, and we won the business.     

On another occasion a team of sales professionals were preparing discussion points ahead of a meeting – the objective of which was to win over business that was a particular piece of business that was already being provided by another company. The company in question had only recently awarded the business elsewhere, but due to some very dynamic changes in the marketplace supply had become constrained.  The organisation had an opportunity to negotiate hard to get a very quick win. 

Something felt uneasy about a quick win to me. I considered that a reversal of strategy may be quite difficult personally for the client. Why? Our contact had recently taken on a new role, awarded the contract to an organisation that was quickly failing to deliver. How could he credibly justify the sudden U turn without admitting that the original decision was wrong.  I thought about what I would want. I would want to go back to my own leadership team with credible information around market dynamics, and robust details demonstrating how landscapes have changed at an unprecedented rate. Despite this, I would want to show that I had quickly adjusted my approach and secured supply.  This would show I can be agile in a very dynamic situation. 

This simple reset of stepping into the client’s shoes was all it took for us to support our key contact in the way he needed. The result of the subsequent meeting was that we supplied various countries with our product, and our contact began ‘coaching’ us around how and where to win more business within the company.

The above examples show how minor disagreements can cause significant stress on individuals pushing their point of view, when a simple reframe of the situation could mean stress us avoided and revenue increased. For more information on sales and NLP Practitioner Training, reach out to us here at Health of Business -

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