Welcome back. My summer sabbatical is over and I’m ready to resume my work here on the blog with a renewed vision and refreshed energy!
In case you’re thinking, “Oh no! He’s going to belabor the old ‘feature vs. benefit’ issue . . . I get it . . . people want ‘holes’ not ‘hand-drills’ . . .” To which I’ll simply say, “PUT A SOCK IN IT!” That’s so basic I’m not going to insult you by seeking to make that point . . . again. Actually, I have something far more subtle and important to share on this.
I call it the “It’s Not Really About You” viewpoint that so many people in business and the professions are adopting. And it’s not endearing them to their prospects and clients.
Here’s an example of how this played out:
I was talking with an attorney one of my clients had hired to help him resolve a minor legal matter. Not serious. But it had to be addressed.
At one point, I asked this attorney to explain the basis for the statement that my client just received. I wasn’t challenging his bill, I was truly curious about what it represented.
Long story short, the attorney explained how he had to do this (and charged .5 hours for it) and then he had to do that (and charged 4.2 hours for that), and so on.
At the end, I just asked, “So tell me, after all this work . . . did the client get what he asked you to do for him in the first place?”. “Uh, not yet . . . but I’m working on it!” True. And he was very proud of the effort (and, time-consuming activities) he’d done on behalf of our mutual client. But the client still did not have what he engaged this attorney to do for him in the first place.
In my own world, we’d had some work done on an online service (software) a developer built for us. At one point, it needed some ‘maintenance’. So we hired a firm to correct the ‘bugs’ in the software. At one point, we still had some issues — and a hefty bill from the developer. I asked, “Why?” The reply was essentially, “Look, we had to put in all kinds of time trying to figure out why the software wasn’t working as it should and THAT . . . is why we billed you for X hours of our time”. The fact that my reason for hiring this firm hadn’t been addressed was (apparently) secondary to the primary interest of this firm to be paid for it’s time. This firm had a legal right to be paid. But their focus on their time vs. our outcome . . . was an emotional ‘wrong’ — to us as the clients.
It’s Way Beyond “Holes vs. Drills” . . . It’s About EMOTIONAL FULFILLMENT!
In both these cases, the providers of the service were ‘top shelf’ quality providers of their respective expertise. I never doubted (still don’t!) their expertise. But it seems to me that there is an inherent tendency to focus on WIIFM (M = ‘me’ as a provider) rather than WIIFTC (TC = ‘the Client’).
We can all take a lesson from the ‘contingency’ or ‘PI’ (personal injury) attorneys. They’re a great example of professionals who are converting their expertise into compensation (roughly 33% of any damage award they win for a client). While they do charge for expenses, that is not (or, shouldn’t be) the main basis for their compensation. They are paid, pure and simply, for their . . . PERFORMANCE and RESULTS . . . that follow from their performance.
Focus more on what your client wants to receive by hiring you . . . and less on the time or activity their request may require. The Result . . . is what your client wants, the Activity is what you want . . . just be sure you don’t lose sight of why you’re being paid . . . to go into the swamp in the first place!