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The 12boxes Value Conversation

Before making a proposal, you need to have an idea of how the client sees the benefits. In a value conversation, the service provider encourages the client to talk about the benefit of a service before offering a specific solution. Here are three reasons why it is better if the client does the talking.

People who make their living by offering advice or delivering complex services do their best to deliver quality work and quality service. Their aim is to achieve high levels of client satisfaction. But there is a problem…

Client satisfaction does not automatically follow from quality inputs; it comes from the client’s perception of value.

If that puzzles you, think if the last time you were in a restaurant and a member of staff came over and asked you if you were enjoying your meal. Did you experience that as ‘valuable’? Did you feel it was just a ritual? Or did you positively resent the interruption?

To understand how the client perceives value, you have to talk to them about it. That is why we developed the 12boxes value conversation.

At the heart of the value conversation the professional checks their understanding of the client’s requirement and summarises it. This is followed by a question, which boils down to this, “If we can find a way of fulfilling your requirement, how will it help you?”

If the client feels that the professional has a real grasp of the issues and the focus has been on understanding rather than ‘selling’, they are more likely to give an authentic answer. The client’s demeanour will show that they have been made to think. Very often, what they say will be surprising. Above all, it will reflect their individuality and reveal what is important to them.

It is a short step from this to getting the client to visualise for themselves what success will look like.

There are a number of advantages to this approach:

  • The professional understands the value to the client of fulfilling a requirement or need before they need to work out, let alone reveal, a detailed solution or discuss cost.
  • The professional can acknowledge and ‘park’ client concerns about change, cost and so forth, by including the need to resolve them in the client ‘requirement’. Once the client has their own vision of success, resolving these concerns becomes more of a joint venture than an uphill struggle to convince.
  • Most people like to feel they are consistent. If the client tells the professional where the value lies in resolving an issue, they are likely to stick with this explanation when talking to other key influencers, and when evaluating what the professional does for them.
  • Because the professional has a much clearer idea about why a client wants a solution, he or she knows what to focus on to create the conditions for high levels of satisfaction. (They still do the ‘technical’ things that they need to do to make things work, but recognise that these may not be the client’s primary concern.)
  • The professional is less likely to under-bill or avoid discussing budget overruns with the client if they have a clear yardstick of value against which we can place additional costs.

You can learn more about the 12boxes value conversation by attending one of our events.