The Client-centred Blog

Do you want highly motivated clients?

Do you want clients that are…?

highly motivated to work with you.

highly motivated to follow through on the tasks that you need them to do.

highly motivated to take the actions necessary to achieve their goals. 

Rather than these being qualities that some people have, and others do not, it is far more useful to realise these are things that we, as the professional person, can facilitate within a client. 

Let me share an experience that had great impact on me. 

The late Johnny Carson was a well-known American television host who had his own show, ‘The tonight show starring Johnny Carson’.

Going back many years I remember watching one show when one of his guests was ‘America’s top salesman’.

The guy came on and Johnny said, “So, you are America’s top salesman. Sell me something then!”

The guy thought for a moment and then said, “Well, what do you want me to sell you?”

Johnny looked around and his eyes fell upon a decorative ash tray on the table. So, he said to the guy to sell him that.

The salesman said, “What would you want that for?”

Carson gave a couple of reasons and the guy said, “Why else would you want it?”

Carson had to think but he came up with another reason.

The guy then said, “And what might you expect to pay for such an item?”

Carson thought and said, “Maybe $25”.

The salesman said, “It’s yours!”

What I thought was fascinating was that he did not try to entice, convince, or persuade Carson of anything. All the guy did was ask questions and listen.

And here is the thing…

You cannot motivate another person; you can only create an environment in which someone becomes self-motivated.

Why is this?

Because people are motivated by their own reasons and not our reasons. 

Therefore, as the professional person, our primary job is to help a client explore and discover what is most important to them.

In my coaching practice when speaking to an existing client or someone completely new I want to know what they want.

So, we spend time exploring this and sometimes I will ask:

Is this THE most important thing we could be working on for you right now?

And if it is not then we explore what is. 

Just this week I chose not to work with a business that I had made an enquiry to. Why did I not want to work with them in the end? Because they did not listen to me. Their representative assumed what was important to me and tried to get me to act for his reasons, not mine.

This is the most basic of errors.

The next small step

When it comes to taking action, people are motivated by what they see as do-able. 

How do you know what is do-able for someone?

Ask questions, listen, and test their level of commitment. If they are reluctant to commit, then make the action smaller or re-establish what they want.  

The nature of motivation is that you feel it after taking the action and it builds from there. This is why the next small step is far more important than something bigger that looks like a good idea but ends up fizzling out.

P.S. You cannot ever want something for your client more than they want it themselves. To be effective at asking questions and listening you must be unattached to the outcome.

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.