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One of the most powerful phrases you will ever use

2010 November 2
by Malcolm Sleath

It’s like this isn’t it…

It sounds like a question, but it’s not really a question. You can say it with an upward inflexion at the end if you want to make it sound more tentative. There are variations: “Is it like this?” is a more direct enquiry. “Some people find…” is less direct, but can enable you to say something more risky.

However you do it, it is a signal that you are going to say something you hope will resonate with a client.

Demonstrating to a client that you understand what it is like to be in their shoes is one of the fastest ways you can build credibility. Oddly, the ability to do this does not arise directly from your technical competence. It comes from paying attention to what other people say.

That’s why those ‘can we get together to talk through a few ideas?’ meetings are never a waste of time – even if no immediate sale or referral results. They are a great source of “It’s like this isn’t it…” experiences and ideas.

I’ve sat and listened to someone begin the process of building a community and earn a reputation as an industry expert by carrying out as few as ten long-distance telephone calls across several time zones based on that single phrase and slight variations of it.

If someone can do that with little or no background knowledge of a business – other than what he or she could can gain from the internet – think what you could do.

Of course, none of what you will discuss can be attributed or directly quoted. It is not necessary. Your aim is to resonate with people, establish credibility and begin the process of building up a recognisable picture.

Disclosure prompts disclosure. If you want a client to tell you what’s really going on, you have to indicate that you have an idea of what that might be.

“It’s like this isn’t it…” helps you explore the gap between aspiration and reality. It’s enables you to draw out the client problems that might seem just minor irritants, but which you can see have the potential to grow into major threats unless they are tackled in a timely way.

It’s not about you. It’s about them. And “It’s like this isn’t it…” demonstrates that you know that.

Do you have special ways of building credibility with clients?

Let’s talk about how you can use the 12boxes interactive approach to building a more profitable practice.