I had an interesting experience a number of months ago when running a complimentary breakfast session for a group of clients. We have these regularly and they are a great success. The focus with them is on education on a topic of interest that also allows for a great exchange of ideas with like-minded people, focused on learning and growth.
The challenge with their success is that we are now getting a range of other consultants who provide complimentary or even different services coming along to the breakfasts. They have started to come regularly which we have not objected to even though they are not purely our clients or perhaps not there for the sole focus of education.
To be fair to most consultants or other service providers that attend, they are there for the right reasons. That is, to exchange ideas, learn from others or network to collaborate rather than to hard sell. It is great to hear a different voice and perspective that our clients can benefit from.
Unfortunately, there are the occasional consultants who don’t do the right thing. The next day after this breakfast event, I had a number of calls from a number of clients letting me know that they had received calls from a couple of consultants the day after the breakfast session introducing themselves as a friend of BRS and requesting a meeting with them. Their interest as perceived by the client was in the hard sell, the sale or the opportunity for a new client.
On reflection, this was not only off putting to these clients but what was more intriguing was the defending of the purity of the breakfasts from our great clients on the education not sell push. This behaviour by others they believed was contrary to this. They were letting me know which was very much appreciated.
Some of the key lessons for me were that clients were loyal to BRS and what we stand for. The other key lesson was that the hard sell is no longer something that clients feel comfortable with. Like any good relationship, trust is built up over time and people will not buy or work with you until they trust you and get to know you.
A final point to note with this experience is that we did not penalise the entire classroom for one kid’s behaviour. We will still continue to invite all and sundry to the breakfasts. Our clients are smart enough to see through the intent of ours and others intentions. The challenge is to focus on what is best for the client long term, speak the kind truth and ensure you continue to deliver outstanding content and value not to sell but to educate.
The relationship you will then foster with your clients by setting great foundations from the start will stand the test of time. Take the time to sow these seeds of trust and you will reap the rewards with a rich harvest of work opportunities.