Cream Cakes or Salad? How to Give Your Clients What You Know They Need

Beverley Hamilton

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You’ve made the break from the constraints of corporate life and are excited to be establishing your new business as a consultant. As an Independent Business Consultant (IBC) whether that be in marketing, HR, IT or sales, you know that what you have to offer is of high value and can create tremendous benefits for your current and potential clients.

You know that what you offer is what your clients need because you have researched your market, listened to clients and you fully understand the problems your clients have. You know that your services can provide the ideal solution.

So what’s wrong with that?

Just because you know your clients need what you have to offer, doesn’t mean that they know they need what you have to offer.

There are a number of reasons for this.

1. They are so caught up in their own world dealing with their problems, which are so immediate, that sometimes what they see as their problem is not their real problem.

2. Some clients already believe they know what the problem is and have a fixed idea of what they see as the right solution

3. Some clients know what they want but they don’t know or won’t acknowledge what they need

The difference between need and want can be minimal but it can also be a chasm.

Imagine you are a lover of cream cakes and along comes a cream cake seller who has the biggest, purest, best rated cream cake ever and it is also your favourite variety. You are in heaven. You want to buy that cake.

Imagine also that you are 30lbs overweight.

Along comes a respected dietician who has a brand new, nutritiously formulated, organic salad range which, she says, will enable you to not only lose your 30lbs excess but will also lower you cholesterol, regulate your metabolism and banish your yoyo weight fluctuations forever. This is exactly what you need – she says!

What you want and what you really need are miles apart.

It can be the same in your consultancy. Just because you know your clients need what you have to offer does not mean that they want what you have to offer

So what can you do to help them bridge the gap between need and want?

1. Help them solve their immediate problem and manage their “want”. By helping them address the pain of what’s immediate, you give them relief, you give them space and you give them time.

2. When a client has a fixed idea of what the solution to their problem is, create a conversation. By engaging in a conversation with them about something they believe to be true and right, you are making a valuable connection and speaking with them in their language on their terms. Once you get a feel and an understanding for why they believe their solution is best and right for them you can really start to help them.

3. At some time or another we all “know” what we “should” do but for whatever reason – fear, embarrassment, stubbornness or pride – we don’t do it. We don’t do what we know and often this perpetuates a problem rather than moving forward to solve it. As a consultant your job is to help your client to feel comfortable with the knowing and then the doing. If you can’t get round the emotional reason – and much of the time it is an emotional reason people won’t take action - it will be very difficult for you to help them address their real needs instead of their wants.

So in growing your business consultancy how can you help your current and potential clients fulfil their wants and their needs to create long lasting relationships?

Be eager to help give them a small cream cake first then work with them on craving the salad!

©Beverley Hamilton 2005

Beverley Hamilton works with independent business consultants to help them grow a profitable consultancy and still have time for their life. You can get my Free Ecourse Discover the 5 Most Common Incorrect Assumptions Independent Business Consultants Make and a complimentary subscription to Quickstart, the newsletter specifically for consultants. Go to One Step Further for more instantly accessible resources. Your future Your choice


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