I have just returned from an incredible trip to Russia to weather that is reflective of the change of season (and a collective sigh from New Yorkers who are tired of the cold I enjoy so much).
This morning on my morning walk to my studio, I thought about my speeches and the lessons I have learned over the past three and a half decades(!) in this incredible business.
When I first started out, I was utterly terrified to talk to clients about my work, let alone in front of a group of strangers. I was so excited to have the chance to please a client that I would say too much about my excitement to be working for them and too little about the trickier topics, such as pricing. Being that this is something many of you have mentioned that you can relate to, I wanted to share a little trick that has helped me move from point A to B.
Some of you may recall that I keep a journal on my nightstand and I write down my intention for the day each morning. What I have found is that we can also do this with moments, meetings, and even conversations with loved ones.
Today, I would like to share my suggestion for those who find addressing difficult topics a challenge.
Clarify Your Intention: When you are about to have a difficult conversation, make a speech or give a lecture; it is common for adrenalin to kick in. I have found that having a clear understanding of my intention and objective is very helpful. Say, for example, you are about to meet with a new client for a big job. Think about what your ultimate goal is. Is it to impress the client with your sophisticated understanding of design? To simply please the client by saying “yes” to every demand they have? To have the thrill of seeing the client appreciate your talent? Really break it down. In my opinion, the first meeting is one in which your goal should be to find out if you are a good fit for the client and the client is for you, and if so, to make the sale. This means creating value for your work should be your ultimate goal. The client is there because they already like your work enough to consider you. Now it is your job to show them why you are the best man/woman for the job.
Support Your Intention: Once you have extracted the purpose of the discussion, write down three to five facts that will support it. Continuing with the new client scenario, think about what you know about your client based on their inquiry and your own research. Gather examples, images, and fact-based anecdotes that showcase your abilities in a humble and professional way. It’s not about bragging and showing what an “expert” you are (both of which can intimidate or turn off clients) but more about showing the parts of your resume that they are interested in seeing in order to consider you for the job.
Identify Possible Objections: Whether it’s a client who thinks you’re out of their price range or a partner who may not be on-board with a purchase, thinking about objections and how to overcome them before you sit down and speak with someone is not only going to give you a “sales” advantage, but it will show them that you have considered where they are coming from and come up with a solution.
Get Reflective: It may feel a little uncomfortable to stand in front of your bathroom or bedroom mirror and practice your speech or sales pitch, but it’s one of the most effective tools you have against awkward pauses and intimidating/intimidated facial expressions and body language. Practice your pitch at least three nights or mornings before you actually meet with someone and you’ll be more in sync with your words and come across more polished and confident.
Be Authentic: This one is a biggie. Yes, it is important to be polished and professional, but people can sense when someone is being sincere. Remember, there is room for all of us and stay focused on being the person no one else can be: the best version you.
What are your tips for addressing tricky topics and conversations?
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)