When you go and talk to clients, do you flaunt your skills? Or do you rely on your ability to listen, understand and help solve their real problems?
I meet surprisingly many talented people who seem to think that it’s all about being able to position your skillset, i.e. “I am a great designer, because…” or “I do really great UX, because…”. And it puzzles me. Because when was truly the last time where a clients real problem was finding someone with the right skillset?
There is always a problem behind the problem. And that is one of the reasons why I try to sell problem solving, when I go out and meet new clients.
Doing that I do two things: I try to listen to what they’re struggling with, and I try to emphasize using my experience over a pretty long career to let them know that I feel their pain because chances are, I have been in a similar position once. Furthermore I try to gauge where it’s appropriate to offer advice including my services as defined by a future assignment or project. It can be tricky to get right. But that’s the normal process.
There are a couple of reasons why I think this is the right approach.
First of all, it build rapport with the client. When we are faced with challenges, we are really only looking for a sympathetic ear, someone who understands our problem and it’s various implications and might be able to help us solve them.
Second, the approach is actually very much in line with the nature of the internet and everything digital. Because even if we all agree that the internet has brought us many opportunities, let us also agree that it has caused – and is causing – a lot of problems for a lot of people, companies and organizations. And that the speed of change results in new problems popping up all over the place every single day.
Looking at it this way it therefore just seems most logical to be in the problem solving business. Because who knows what skills are needed to fix things, if we’re not clear on the real problem first. By just peddling your skills you run the risk of never being allowed into the conversation with the client to begin with.