Be Careful not to give the Right Answer to the Wrong Question

When you’re working with clients as an adviser they’ll often ask you what seems to be a simple question like “what do you think my marketing budget should be?

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Selling and The 5 Questions Advisers Should Ask

Some time ago I presented a webinar on the 5 questions business advisers frequently ask which you can view by clicking this link. Or if you would prefer to listen to an audio of the presentation with the player below.

In the presentation I referred to Aristotle’s 3 means of persuasion which I consider to lie at the heart of selling. They are Lagos (conveying the logic that sits behind your offering – the commercial value proposition), Pathos (helping your client establish an emotional connection to the outcome – the experiential value proposition) and Ethos (establishing a credibility connection – the trustworthiness value proposition.)

When I was reviewing the Webinar before posting it occurred to me that what I should have underlined more strongly is the fact that any interaction with a client is a brand building exercise in which you are really putting yourself out there for them to form a view about whether they want to invite you into their (business) life or not. For that to happen they need to trust you and what you can do, they need to feel the connection between where they are and where they could be and they need to see the numbers.

I suggest that you take a look at the video presented by Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, in which he makes the point that people want to deal with organizations that believe what they believe – his Golden Circle idea is definitely relevant to your firm’s brand, your personal brand and to your sales process. If you haven’t already watched the video please do it now – it’ll take 18 minutes.

Not long after he came back to Apple, Steve Jobs did a presentation to a group of developers in which he talked about marketing being about value and how your success is going to be tied closely to giving people a reason to want to identify with you.  This video is worth taking a look at.


Harry Beckwith, the author of The Invisible Touch: The Four Keys to Modern Marketing and several other books (they are probably the only marketing texts a professional service firm needs) said “clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much they care.” Please think deeply about that. It’s important.

Just as I was reflecting on that I came across a brilliant little book just published be a fellow Aussie (via Ireland) named Bernadette Jiwa who lives in Perth called The Fortune Cookie Principle: The 20 keys to a Great Brand Story and Why Your Business Needs One. It’s a little book packed with big ideas that are so relevant to today’s business.  One of the many relevant points she makes is “people don’t buy what you do, they buy how you make them feel.” This is a relevant adaption of something expressed by Maya Angelo an extraordinarily well known African-American poet who wrote:

People will forget what you said

People will forget what you did

But people will never forget how you made them feel.

That is exactly what I mean when I say, repeatedly, when you can’t differentiate your product or service you must differentiate the process by which you deliver it and, especially in a professional service firm. It is really about how you make the people you are servicing feel – this is what Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People is all about – it’s the only sales book you’ll ever need to buy.  Take a look at Bernadette’s book it’s sure to give you some ideas for fashioning a vision for your firm which is one of the key elements for re-engineering your firm for the future.

Two Questions Every CEO Should Ask

In 1981 after being appointed CEO of General Electric Jack Welch asked Peter Drucker to visit him at the company’s headquarters. They spent a day together during which time Drucker asked Welch just two questions.

The first was: “If you were not already in this business (referring to each of GE’s business units) would you enter it today?”  The second question was: “If the answer to the first question is no, what would you do about it? Continue reading “Two Questions Every CEO Should Ask”