I recently had an opportunity to meet with a potential client in a setting that was not unusual, but a little unsettling as I would be attending this meeting with my “boss”. My usual approach to meeting a client for the first time is to prepare a list of questions to ask them about their home, what their plans are for moving, what their favorite part of their home, etc. I try to be conscious of the fact that I am there to be “interviewed” but I like to let the client do most of the talking. This helps me to establish what they would need from me.
Usually, when I initially meet clients in their homes, I am on my own. In this particular case, the relationship was “brokered” by my boss as he was the connection between them and me. So in preparing for the meeting, my boss gave me a list of responses to objections, how to handle questions about pricing etc. I responded in kind by saying that I am not “
We meet the couple, tour their lovely home, are not invited to sit down as they don’t want to take up a bunch of our time. As we are finishing up the tour, they begin with questions about price and our fee. As promised, my boss chimed in on cue and laid in hard on the scripted response. Inside I cringed a little. It’s all of the things that most people in the business teach you to say when someone asks about the price or they want you to discount your fees. We all have heard the questions…I have never heard those responses come out of my mouth until that day.
Right on cue, as my boss begins with his canned responses, I immediately confirm what he is saying and elaborate even more with reasons why others will discount their fees and won’t do half of what I will to sell your home, etc. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but there we were spouting off all the accolades our office had in our portfolio, why they should hire us, etc. I was being all “salesy”, just like I had sworn I wasn’t.
Fast forward two days later when I asked for another meeting to go over the comparisons and pricing that I had come up with for this beautiful home. I found myself so hell bent on getting this client’s business that the hard sales pitch just kept coming. Asking him why he doesn’t feel comfortable signing the contract right now. Who was this person talking?
Very graciously and tactfully, the client looked at me and said that he liked me. What he didn’t like was the hard sales pitch that he thought we had thrown him. He didn’t feel like we asked enough questions or showed enough enthusiasm about the home or the people who were going to hire someone to sell it for them! My heart sank. While I appreciated his honesty VERY MUCH, I couldn’t believe my ears! Was he speaking about ME? Had I said and done all of that? Where had I gone and what was I willing to sacrifice of myself in order to get the sale?
We ended our meeting on a positive note and he promised he would get back to me. I wasn’t counting on anything at that point. I apologized for coming on too strong and did my best to assure him that I wasn’t normally like that. He’d never believe it, why would he?
I haven’t been able to get over how I could turn a 180 so quickly just to “earn” the business of someone I had just met, just because it meant a lot more money than I was used to making. What was I trying to prove? Who was I trying to be? Clearly, I was NOT being myself. This was a big turning point for me and my business. Leaving that meeting, I swore that I would never do anything that would jeopardize my values and principles in my business. Principles in my LIFE.
Since then I have been searching. Searching for the real thing. I could not ever sacrifice my principles like that again as it clearly got me nowhere. Did I earn the client’s business? Time will tell on that front. Does it matter? Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong, business and earning people’s business is important, if it weren’t I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s all in the HOW. How do I show clients that they can work with someone competent that does not have to push you into signing a contract? By showing I am trustworthy, honest and kind. I put others needs before my own. How do I do that? BY BEING MYSELF. Don’t try to be someone you are NOT. You will FAIL every time.
Driving home from church tonight, we were listening to christian radio. Lose My Soul by Toby Mac came on. As many times as I have heard this song before, it has never spoken to me like it did tonight. I don’t want to gain the whole world / and lose my soul. No, my soul is not negotiable in any transaction.
What have you sacrificed to get what you want? Sometimes sacrifice is good. Sometimes, it can cost you dearly. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.