Four Ways to Persuade a Client With Integrity

If you’ve tried to sell clients to provide resources or time or purchase new services you know it can be difficult to convince others, and more difficult still do it with complete integrity.
Maybe you’ve been uneasy with the persuasive trickery or manipulative techniques that you’ve read about or see others try. It can feel pretty uneasy when you try to twist clients into your way of thinking. Beyond that, when clients feel that you’re “selling” them, the trust you’ve built with them can go out the window. Trust, of course, is essential; you need it to work together smoothly and to up-sell and cross-sell new business along the way.

It’s natural to have an agenda and want to get your way. The problem is this: A strong agenda can overshadow your ability to serve your clients as a true partner, one who can work through any conflict and communicate any message and still keep the relationship in great shape. We see it this way:

The stronger your agenda to get what you want, the more danger you’ll have of losing your client’s trust.

In our “Power of Partnership” training for consultants and solution sales people, we teach the value of understanding a client’s point of view about an issue before recommending a course of action. After using our specific skills to “meet” your clients this way, you can provide information and recommend options that have a good chance of “moving” them toward your point of view. So, the primary principle here is “Meet clients before you try to move them.”

Whether your attempt at persuasion is successful or not, what’s most important is to support your clients 100% whatever direction they choose.

Here are four specific ways to persuade clients and still stay partners with them–no matter what:

1. Present the Consequences

Fully understand the direction your client is headed and why that direction makes sense to them. Then show them the (risky) consequences of that direction.

When people get into a “selling” mode they usually focus on presenting benefits to clients. Quite often, however, clients are more motivated by fear, or the perceived risk of heading in a certain direction. The real art is to present consequences in a factual way, and to act as the client’s champion, a partner who wants to keep them out of trouble. In our experience, even veteran consultants and sales people struggle to do this well.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Ask questions to dig down into their objections, making double sure you have fully understood the client’s underlying reasons.
  • Show them you get it: take your time and demonstrate that you fully understand their point of view, accept it and appreciate their reasoning.
  • State how going in your direction would avoid these consequences, and link your direction to their most important strategic business needs.
  • Be sure to present consequences as “interesting information” the client needs to know. There’s no point in telling them the sky will fall in on them; as their partner you simply want them to have the full picture they need to make an informed choice.

2. Show the Benefits

Fully understand the direction your client is headed and why it makes sense to them. Then state the benefits of heading in your preferred direction. Here’s how:

  • Ask questions to dig down into their objections and make double sure you have fully understood the client’s underlying reasons.
  • Show them you get it: take your time and demonstrate that you fully understand their point of view, accept it and appreciate their reasoning.
  • State the benefit(s) to go another direction and link your benefits to their most important strategic business needs. (This is very important.)
  • Just as in stating consequences, talk about benefits as exciting, useful information—but stay out of “selling” or trying too hard to convince your client. You are acting as an experienced partner who wants to keep them out of trouble and see them receive maximum results.

3. Sit on the Same Side of the Table

Frame the objection or problem as an issue that you would like to discuss and solve together. Then, co-create options to move forward.

  • Show full appreciation and understanding of how the client thinks and feels about the issue in question.
  • Restate the problem or issue as a question you need to solve together, e.g. “How to put more resources on the project?”
  • Your actions and words should indicate that it’s both of you against the problem. The objective is to help the client surface options and choose the right path forward.
  • Be sure to ask your client to contribute options, so they can feel part of the problem-solving process.

4.Tell a Compelling Story

Tell a story about successful past clients who had similar objections or problems and how you helped them succeed.
Stories seem to engage a different part of the human brain, and they reduce resistance and defensiveness in clients. If your story is well told, it can stand on its own as a powerful persuader.

Two recommendations:

1. Develop stories that address common objections to your frequent recommendations.
2. Practice telling stories before you bring them to a client. Your stories should be short and entertaining, and should make a clear point.

Here are the basics of telling a brief client story:

  • Set up the “before” part of the story, where you briefly describe the problem(s) a past client faced.
  • Explain the intervention: what you or your company did to create benefits or to avoid consequences for the past client.
  • Describe the specific benefits the past client received or the consequences they received if they didn’t follow your recommendation.
  • Tell the client how the story is similar to their specific situation.

We believe partnership is the name of the game when it comes to dealing with clients in every phase of a project. You’ll find more articles, videos and helpful information on partnership at our website PowerofPartnership.net.

If you’d like to learn more about Client Relationship Skills Training, visit our YouTube Channel!

Authored For S3 Solutions by Marty Friedman

Marty FriedmanMarty Friedman is one of the architects of the “Power of Partnership”, a training course for consultants and solution sales professionals who want to sell bigger deals and have smoother projects. He has co-presented this training for clients such as HP, Accenture, and Bell Canada as well as many mid-sized companies and start-ups. Find out more at www.PowerofPartnership.net

One Response to “Four Ways to Persuade a Client With Integrity”

  1. Managment Consulting Explained - Hitesh Sahni

    […] out a low-budget, practical solution. And as if that isn’t enough of a challenge, I must also persuade the client, their employees and navigate through the internal bureaucracy and politics of their […]

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