Reading between the lines: Are you in sync with your clients?


By Rebecca Smith, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing.

We’ve all been there– you go back-and-forth and back-and-forth on the same topic with someone without ever getting to the heart of the matter… It’s like a game of cat and mouse.  It’s likely your clients, your colleagues and your friends have played this game with you once or twice in the last month. You may think you both know the outcome you want, but getting there can be quite a frustrating chase.

Hopefully there isn’t a fear you’ll lose your friends or colleagues over it, but if you’re frequently playing this game with your clients, you have a bigger problem. If you aren’t in sync with what they want, you probably aren’t producing the best results or making the best impression.

Your clients are the bread and butter of your business. Get on the same page with your clients and get to truly know and understand them and their business at a deeper level.

Here are a few tips:

Be an active listener

You may be listening to your clients, but are you really listening? If you’re really listening, you’re not just hearing what they want, you’re hearing what they need. “Okay I hear you that you want to implement Snapchat or Periscope to generate awareness, but let me tell you why social ads might be a better fit. Snapchat and Periscope are super trendy, but with social ads you’ll be able to better target your audience and reach those people who’ll actually be interested in buying your product or service…”

Active listening requires you to understand your clients’ goals in and out.

Get in their shoes

Want to push your client away? Don’t take their needs into consideration, and definitely don’t keep their personality traits in mind.  If you don’t set expectations and boundaries up front, your own personal communication habits might get in the way of your effectiveness with your client.

For example, you might be a lengthy talker who loves to understand the ins and outs of everything, but that doesn’t mean your client is the same way or will appreciate this approach. If he or she wants the cliff notes version, share that version. Leave the details out.

Try to speak their language. Understand the right lingo, acronyms and terminology in their world from the beginning of the engagement so every team member can remain focused on the same goals.

Ask easy and engaging questions

It’s easy to get into a habit of asking yes and no questions. It saves time. It requires less thought. However, it’s not always the most effective.  When you are discussing future plans, ask questions that get you to the end goal—who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why.

Often the best answers will come from speculations. Yes, I did just say “speculations”. Asking open-ended questions that require thought can, at first, shut people down. Answers may become quick and short. When this happens, focus on the way things were said (or not said) and re-phrase.  Read between the lines and ask engaging questions that will eventually draw out the answers you need to move forward.

Really, truly coming to a mutual understanding of your client’s goals and objectives is just the first step to being in sync.  Once you’re clear on that, the cat and mouse can move from a game of chase to a place of understanding, appreciation — and ultimately to greater results.