We have all encountered times when our job is to help somebody but that person doesn’t want to be helped. This is frustrating.
Very often, we are hired as consultants, attorneys, innovators, and professionals in order to help a client work through difficult problems. We want to help them because this is what we do, and the client hires us because they need the help. Theoretically, this should be a beautiful relationship where both parties win.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case, especially in the startup world. As creators, we have a vision of how to help people with a new product or service. The hard part is convincing others they need the help, even though they may need it, because they may not want the help. As a result, we are often struck with the dilemma of helping others who aren’t interested in being helped.
We All Have Needs—Help Them with Theirs
The first step in knowing what others’ needs are is to have an area of expertise. As a professional, entrepreneur, or innovator, your task is to provide a solution to the world that will help people. Asking the generic question, “how can I help you?” is not good enough. Not only does this sound vague and NOT helpful, it comes across as shallow and lackadaisical.
Instead, you need to know your space of the world better than anybody else. If you are trying to build and sell an app, then you better know that part of the market better than anybody in your city, industry, and market.
Once you know what your business is, that thing you do, then you can begin looking to help people. You’ll know how to identify the needs of others because you know your offering better than anybody else. And by knowing your app, service, or product, you should also know the common pain points, risks, and opportunities. Then, when you talk with others, you will be able to listen and accurately identify the needs of others.
Empathizing is Good, But Solving Problems is Better
Identifying the needs of others is only part of the process. When a potential client is telling you about his frustrations and worries, knowing that he needs help is not enough. You need to give the client hope, understand his needs, and persuade him to see how you can help him.
Selling your solution doesn’t have to be abrasive, crass, or sleazy. Selling your solution starts with empathy and looks like one friend helping another friend. Remember, at the core of business is relationships and you are in business to help people. Be genuine and identify with the paint points, while also communicating how you can help your client win and succeed in the marketplace.
Start Building the Relationship Now
Businesses succeed when two parties mutually and voluntarily trade with one another. You need their business to succeed and they need your help to overcome hurdles and succeed in their own business. Successful transactions are more than one-time occurrences, though.
Real success comes when you form a real relationship with your customer. Amazon is a terrific example of this because everything they do revolves around the customer and that customer’s experience.
So, when you find new prospects, target your ideal client, and go out into the marketplace, just remember that the first step in any successful sale is to start with the person on the other side of the transaction and look at the long-term.
Worst Case Scenario
Many years ago while consulting, I had a client who wanted to hire consultants, which was good for us, but didn’t want to take the advice of the consultants or do what it took to really elevate their business, which was bad for them. This was extremely frustrating because a consultant is, by definition, somebody who wants to help somebody else with their problems. But the client wanted to do it their way, and my job was to support them through the process.
This was frustrating. But remember, sometimes the best thing you can do to help your target audience and client is to be present with them through the journey. Continue building the relationship with your customer and become a partner in their journey. Yes, this can be immensely frustrating because you are there to help them and solve their problem, but you can only do as much as your customer will let you.
At the end of the day, turn this into a relationship-building and a learning exercise. Really seek to understand what is driving your customer’s behavior and how you can learn from this so that the next time you have a customer like this, you can deliver an even better product or service.
The Lesson to Be Learned
Business is the rough and tumble of life but you are in it to win it. The marketplace is not easy to deliver a new product or service, be successful, or reach new customers. If it was, then everybody would be in it and winning.
The reality is that you will come across people and organizations who hire you or purchase your product, but still don’t want the value you actually have to deliver. That’s OK. Be a partner. Build the relationship. And always remember that your job is to help and serve others in the way that makes the most sense for them.