Column: What do your clients care about?


A few years ago, I received an email from one of my sales coaching clients letting me know that they were terminating my contract. I asked for a brief explanation as to why. They indicated that three main factors led to their decision. First, I wasn’t holding their team accountable. Second, I seemed to review the same material each week and third, I hadn’t taught them anything about social media.

I was shocked to hear the rationale behind their decision. I would never agree to hold a sales team accountable (it’s their manager’s job), I review the fundamentals each week until the team begins to put them into practice and at the time I didn’t know the password for my Twitter account.

So, what happened?

The reason this client became dissatisfied with my services had nothing to do with performance. They terminated my contract because I wasn’t meeting their expectations. At some point I stopped paying attention to what they really wanted and instead focused on what I thought was important. This type of miscommunication leads to most arguments, both personal and professional.

In theory, making your clients happy is a simple concept – find out what someone expects and make sure you always deliver a little bit more.

First, you need to set expectations. By “set” I mean that you should help them understand exactly what you feel is a reasonable expectation from your company. This is different than simply “understanding” expectations and the distinction is important.

Next, build a set of uncomplicated systems for exceeding these expectations. For example, if you own an accounting firm and have set the expectation that taxes will be completed by April 15, you had better have a system in place to collect your client’s information by mid-March.

Finally, measure your results to ensure that you are exceeding the expectations you set. Also, review these results with your clients on a regular basis. You’ll be amazed at how quickly people forget conversations and allow expectations to drift.

It’s a simple process and as with just about everything, it’s your choice to follow it or not. Choose wisely.