It’s What to Say Wednesday and today we’re digging into the question of what you say when a client says, “This just isn’t working.” Stay tuned.
Welcome to The Client Whisperer™ Show. I’m your host Tony Banta and I am the client whisperer. I’ve spent over a decade running multiple six- and seven-figure client businesses and I’ve learned that the secret to success in a client business comes down to one thing: leadership. Bad client behavior is the enemy and with the right curriculum, infrastructure, and mindset, you can lead your clients to great success and scale your business the easy way.
“Why would it not be working?” Is always the question that I have when I see someone struggling with this kind of client issue. “Why isn’t it working?” You know when a client is saying this, when a client is objecting that your program, your process, what you’re doing to help them just isn’t working, it’s always because of one of three things, and these three things are really important to get right, or to identify which one of them is really going on for your client. Because if you don’t get them right, what ends up happening is you come back with an answer that doesn’t really fit what’s going on for them.
I’ve seen more clients be pushed away from programs, be told that it is, it just isn’t gonna work for them or it’s not the right fit or have them – or have them hear nothing. Have them be told the wrong thing when they’re not the right fit. I’ve seen more clients where they ask this question, they push back in this way, and things go badly than probably any other question. And this gets to the heart of effectiveness of, is our program really being effective for someone and how do we know? So here are the three things that happen. Here are the three things that go on.
The three things are, one, it isn’t working for them because it’s a problem with your program. Now, this might be hard for some of you to swallow. This might be hard for some of you to be okay with. And let me be specific about this because the next one that I’m going to highlight is a problem with your client management, not with your program. So when I talk about your program, I’m talking specifically about the tactics that you’re teaching, the way in which you do done-for-you service for someone – that’s not going to work for every client.
If you take for instance, client businesses for us, right? We serve all kinds of client businesses. We’ve even served some client businesses that are on the fringe, like medical firms, right? We actually have a long time client that we’ve worked with for years that’s in the medical space, but we treat them very differently than the program that we take all of our regular clients through and why? Because our program wouldn’t exactly work for them. They have some unique needs and some unique cases and they have some ability to use some tools but not use others that make it very difficult for them to employ all of the techniques that we use for all of our clients. The only way that we know that is because we’ve paid attention to which clients get which results and how do things work and we’ve tweaked that over time. We’ve both made our program better and we’ve been more specific about the kind of clients that we’re willing to let into the program in the first place. So scenario number one: your program isn’t working because of the curriculum, the tactics, what you do inside of the program.
Reason number two: it’s a problem with your client management. That you’re not managing the client in a way that is allowing them to make the most use of the work that you’re doing together, of the way that the tactics work and everything else. You’re not advising them, you’re not giving them the right advice. We think of this as an implementation issue. It’s not a problem with the tactic. The tactic might work perfectly, but it’s a problem with the implementation, specifically on your side. A perfect example of this is that a client comes to you for strategic advice or that’s one of the components of your program, to identify the strategy or how to make use of the tactics and things like that that they have available to them and you misread something. You don’t fully understand what their business is. You don’t fully understand what’s happening with their lifestyle or things like that.
I’ll give you a perfect example. I worked with a nutrition coach a couple of years ago to help solve a specific issue, a specific health issue that I was having and she’s a phenomenal coach. Really, really great. I later found out that the work that we were doing together just didn’t quite work. It wasn’t really working for me. And it’s not that hard tactics wouldn’t have worked actually. Some of her tactics very much did work and helped me feel dramatically better, but they only had specific – they would only last for so long and then started not to work as well. And I later found out that that’s because of a specific genetic variation that I have. That that wasn’t something that she was managing, that she brought into her program.
Now you could look at this at, you know, two different ways. She didn’t have the expertise to deal with genetic variations like that. And so for certain people within the population that wasn’t gonna work and that’s one way that you could look at that. Another way to look at that is that she didn’t know what to ask. She didn’t know how to ask about that, to find out the specific tweaks that had to happen for me to still be able to use that program. I always like to bring in some business examples and some lifestyle examples from offers.
The third scenario is also pretty interesting ’cause it’s along these same lines where it’s an implementation issue, but the third scenario isn’t an implementation issue on your side. It’s an implementation issue on the client side. The client isn’t getting results because they’re not following the program to the level of detail that they need to. They’re not actually implementing the tactics to the level that they need to. So when they’re actually looking for results, of course they’re not getting results. They’re not doing the things that they need to do. It’s not a problem with the tactics. If they were actually implementing the tactics, they would be getting great results. It’s not a problem with your advice or the way that you’ve implemented your side of what you’re doing with them that’s working. It’s that they need to take action. They need to do things. They need to think about things in a different way.
So three scenarios, two of them you can affect, one of them you can absolutely affect but not directly. And here’s where we get to how you answer this specific question. How do we answer the question, “This just isn’t working for me”? Well, if you’ve listened to What to Say Wednesday for any period of time, you know that the default answer that I always give is, “What do you mean?” And this is the first question that I almost always ask when a client is coming with an objection or with a question, and I almost always ask that because I want to understand what’s going on for them at a deep level. “What do you mean?” Well, this is a great opportunity for them to just spill their guts of why it’s not working, and I might even follow up with some emotionally driven questions, some questions to get at the emotion that’s living underneath that question because I really want to find out what is going on with this person, why are they saying this? What’s the feeling underneath the surface?
Then when I have that information, I’m going to do one of two things. I’m either – either I have enough detail or I know which of those three buckets they fit into and then I can just immediately respond back with an answer, and I’m going to run through all three of those scenarios right now so that I can explain those. Or I don’t know, and if I don’t yet know and I need to do some more research, I need to look into it more. I’m going to say to them, “Hey, I need to do some more research on this. I need to look into everything that’s going on, so I want you to send over some information for these pieces that you, that you shared with me today so that I can dig in and I can come back with a plan.”
There is no shame in coming back with a plan. That shows that you’re serious. It shows that you’re thinking deeply about the situation and it shows that you’re not just giving them an off-the-cuff answer. There’s no shame in that. Embrace that. Here’s what you say with the three scenarios of where that lines up.
I see a lot of people who assume that there’s something wrong with their program or assume that they did something wrong. I also see a lot of offers, I see a lot of client leaders who immediately want to blame the client for the area of where the client is not doing what they need to do. So here’s the thing that I want to say. Many times if the client isn’t getting the result, the answer is mixed, and this is really important. You need to first identify the fact that it is mixed and take responsibility for the part of it that’s yours.
If you don’t take responsibility for the part of it that’s yours and identify that this is a complicated scenario, then you’re going to run into problems getting the client to own their part of it because the fact is, you need to be a leader. You need to show up as a leader. You need to lead the client and that means that you need to lead yourself first. You need to practice self-leadership and, just like we’re leading the clients to own their outcomes, you need to own your responsibility first. So either of those first two scenarios, if there’s something wrong with your curriculum that it isn’t quite working for that client, then that’s an amazing thing to discover so that you get to see what’s happening. You get to augment your program. You get to tweak your program to make it even better, to help the client get results.
If you discover that there was a management issue either with you or with someone else on the team where you didn’t manage something for the client correctly, that is great feedback as well and you want to thank the client for that, and want to follow up with that and say, “Hey, I need to take responsibility for this. I need to own this.” You want to speak with the same level of confidence that you would speak about selling them because you are selling them. You’re also just following through. This is the leadership follow-through of the swing, where you’re showing them that serious about taking responsibility, you’re serious about serving them. Even if they’re upset with you, you taking responsibility for that – which also means following through on what are you going to do for them? Are you going to give them an extra chunk of time? Are you going to make that right and you’re going to circle back to them to show you how that’s been made, right? What are you going to do to do right by the client?
That’s the other piece that you want to communicate in this, ’cause you want to communicate it’s your responsibility and you’re taking responsibility. You want to communicate what you’re going to do to make right by the client and then if it’s a complex thing where the client has some aspects that are their responsibility, you want to follow through with that part. “You bear some responsibility for this outcome too, and I know you already know that.” That’s a great line. “You know I know that you already know that,” is a great line that just diffuses the resistance. It lets the resistance go, that the client doesn’t have to come back and say, “Well, I know that,” that the client can say, “Yes, you’re right.”
There’s also a neuro-linguistic programming piece in that, where in the client’s head they’re saying, “You’re right,” which makes it a lot easier for them to say you’re right about the next things that you’re about to say. “I know you probably already know this, and I know that that you are already taking responsibility for the outcome. That’s why you brought this up and asked this question.” Position the question as them taking responsibility for the outcome in their life, in their business, ’cause that’s a positive thing and we want to positively reinforce the positive aspects of what our clients are doing.
We then can follow up with, “Here’s something that I’m seeing, here’s a pattern that I’m seeing,” or, “Here’s an action that I’m seeing,” or, “I’m seeing some resistance from you to take action in these areas and we can do everything right on our side and we can fix the things that we identified and we will fix those, but that’s not going to move the needle for you unless you’re also taking action in these ways.”
And here’s where we want to follow up with that. “Do you have an idea of what that looks like?” They’re going to respond with that. If they don’t, tell them what that looks like. “Are you encountering, is there anything standing in your way of doing that?” So, do they know what it looks like, and can they identify anything that’s standing in their way? If the answer to both of those things is – if the answer to do they know what it looks like is yes, or you’ve told them and the answer to, “Is there anything standing in your way?” is no, if there is something sitting in their way, you can deal with that. That will probably be another objection. That’s another topic for What to Say Wednesday, but you can deal with that on a case-by-case basis.
Once those two things are out of the way, it’s then a question of, “Do I have your commitment that you will take action in this area moving forward?” The important part from here is not whether they do it or not, it’s the fact that they’ve made a commitment, and that gives you a handle, like a handle on a bag, gives you a handle to hold on to so that when they come back you get to hold them accountable. You have something to grip onto inside of them, that they made that commitment, so if they’re not able to live up to their commitment, now there’s a different topic for you to talk about. Now there’s a different leadership conversation that you get to have that gets to say, “Why are you struggling to follow through on your commitment?”
Underneath this is the essence of client leadership that will create incredible loyalty and lifetime raving fans. ‘Cause this is what it takes to change someone’s life, to change their life through their business – or what actually happens is their business through their life, or to change their life through them actually becoming a better person. And if you’re willing to have a couple of those tough conversations, that pays incredible dividends. Hope this has been helpful. This is your What to Say Wednesday. See you soon.