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“My client knows what he needs to do, but he just can’t pull the trigger.” Sound familiar? Some people are just hard to help. Not because they are bad people. They’re stuck. They’re caught by deep rooted forces that literally control them. They have an awareness of these, although their actual understanding normally runs between little and none. He or she just can’t move forward.
I met with someone recently who is a contract CFO for multiple clients. He is experienced and knows what he is doing. He cares about his clients and would do just about anything to help them. But, what do you do? He has a few of these situations presently and he described a particular case for me. I will give you the short run down. You could apply this to a prospect for a business sale, insurance, wealth management services, or other scenarios.
Client, in this example, owns a significant business. That business could readily be worth 30% or 40% more. They need to make some decisions and make some changes. Of course, the biggest one being to make some decisions and make some changes. Even more critical, this business is going to start sliding south if they don’t do something. The business case is clear and undisputed. Client says he agrees.
Client is not happy with his personal life. He also says that straight out. He has seen psychologists, counselors, consultants and others. He hasn’t changed and hasn’t gone anywhere with that dabbling.
This is definitely what I call stuck. Business is stuck. Owner is stuck. The two are stuck together. The CFO and Client both see something is wrong. Yet, Client can’t make a decision, can’t move forward, can’t get out of his own way.
So, my new friend asked me: What do I do? What can you do? How would you go about getting this guy off the dime? I haven’t met this Client, but I know him really well. The points below are the relatively obvious ones.
● Something stands in the way.
● CFO and Client agree something stands in the way. They agree there needs to be movement. Yet, no such forward progress is anywhere to be found.
● They have tried to discover what that “something” is. They have no doubt uncovered parts of it.
● They have not been able to get to the true root. Otherwise, this would be moving.
The less obvious ones are where the answers lie. The points below seem straightforward. But, the issues are deep rooted and complex. Bottom line is that Client must:
1. Be in touch with enough pain to motivate him or her to confront it.
2. See a way out. He has to see something so much better than what he has now that he is compelled to begin to take action.
The process of getting your client or prospect to discover at that level is more art than science. Most important by far is what is inside of us (“us” being the service provider). The critical “way of being” is to be present simply to serve. Inside of us, this has to be 1000% about the client. Energetically, contrast that to a scenario where some part is thinking about getting a new client or collecting a fee.
Next, we have to help him discover. We can’t tell him. We can’t just discover at a surface level and then all agree “that’s the problem”. This is about asking, discovering, clarifying, going deeper. What else? What else? What else? It’s never about us.
It’s not about the business. He or she may say it is. May think it is. But, it’s about her. It is about what is going on inside. This is where we get tripped up. Most financial people are really comfortable in dealing with business problems. When it comes to deep work designed to help Client discover the conversation he or she is having with himself or herself… Well, that’s foreign territory.
If I go back to the above example, Client has seen a counselor or two, and still gotten nowhere. Is that a reason not to take it to the next level? No. Look – they did not get to right pain points. In other situations, those may not exist. In this example, they clearly do. Client needs to be helped to confront them in a way that is different from what he has done in the past.
I deal with this all the time. Some of it is timing. We have to be able to be with the client and lead him to his own discoveries. That takes time, patience, and a certain skill set. As the service provider who only wants to serve, we have to be ready to meet her where she is. We must help Client see and feel enough to want to go just a little deeper. We have to be able to put it all out on the table and touch and feel it without judgment or agenda. We have to be both vulnerable and able to share the truth.
Recommendation #1: Be in a place inside that is only about the client and serving him or her. The rest will take care of itself.
Recommendation #2: Lead the client to his or her own discoveries. Clarify. Keep going deeper. What else? What else? What are the consequences of not dealing with the problem?
Recommendation #3: Be honest. Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to say something like: I want so much to help you. I don’t quite know how to help find what you need to find in all of this. Could we just roll up our sleeves and allow me to ask a whole bunch of questions? Let’s see where this goes.
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