We are all experts in our fields, which can be a problem. When interacting with clients, we know our stuff. If need be, we can talk for hours about our core competencies. That can be the problem. There is almost never a time when a client or potential client needs to hear every aspect of what we do and how we do it. We lose control of the client relationship because we don’t let the client say anything. The key to a good client interaction is being recognized as an expert through the questions asked not the quantity of information given.
So why do we take on the expert role and try to tell our potential client everything about our services? For most of us, because we know so much about it. We are excited about what we are offering and want to tell people. We are comfortable taking on the expert role. We’re like star students at school. They ask the question and we have the right answer. Here are some prime openings that are hard to resist. “What can you do for me?” “Why should I hire you?” “Tell me what your firm does?” All seem to invite us to wow our potential client with how great we are and what we have to offer. With a little restraint, we can avoid talking on and on and narrow down our potential clients issues. If we start down the expert path, it is difficult to stop giving answers to any and all questions. The difference between business development and school is that we don’t win a client by simply answering questions correctly.
So how do we prevent ourselves from giving out all of our expert information? One rule is to get a specific question they want answered. Something broad like, “How can you help?” is not specific enough to give a good answer. “What do they need help with?” “What have they done to help themselves?” “Why do they need help?” Until you narrow down the question to something manageable, it’s not time to answer it. When we ask questions of the question we uncover a manageable question that has a reasonable concise answer.
Be an expert but don’t always act like one. We are not mind readers. Never guess what a potential client is looking for. We are not talking brochures. We should be interacting with a potential client to see if our offering is a good fit. Answering broad questions with everything we can think of does not meet that goal. Most of us have services that help a variety of people and situations. To engage our potential client we need to discover which category, if any, they fit into. That can’t be accomplished by taking on the expert role and answering any and everything that is asked. We become true experts when we ask good questions and discover the specific situation in which we can help our potential client.