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How to Increase Your Efficiency, Get More Done, and Preserve Your Sanity By Martin Howey

by | Martin Howey

Values-Based Selling

More than 20 years ago, I read a book written by Bill Bachrach that had a major impact on how I valued my time and how I looked at my clients and prospective clients.

The book is called, “Values-Based Selling… The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships for Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents, and Investment Reps.”

From the title, you can surely surmise that the book was written for those working in the financial services industry.

And while that is certainly the case, in his book,

Bill identified 5 different categories or groups that clients and prospects in all industries, professions, or business niches fall into.

When I learned what those groups were and how to identify which group the person I was to talking to belonged in, it literally changed my life. I had a new sense of value for my time, I eliminated a ton of wasted time and effort, and my income rose exponentially.

But like many things, if you don’t keep up your practice you begin to slip a little… and that’s what happened to me.

Over the years I’ve found myself not properly “categorizing” the people I spend time with, and I’ve ended up having very busy days, but actually accomplishing very little.

For many years I taught Bill’s concepts to my clients as part of our training programs.

Then one day as I was looking at my week in review, I realized that I had been very busy the entire week, but I had actually accomplished very little. And the reason? I had been spending time with the wrong people. 

It’s not that they were bad people, not at all. The fact is, they were nice people… good people. They sincerely wanted help… and I was all too willing to give it to them.

But as you’ll learn as you read the remainder of this document and see how Bill describes how he determines which people fit into which categories, you’ll see why it’s important and how spending time with the wrong people can be detrimental to your business, your time, your energy, and ultimately your life.

So in my case, I recently took a good, hard look at my business… how I was spending my time, who I was working with, what the motivation (stated and unstated) of each person was, and whether or not is was in my (business and personal) best interest to give them what they wanted from me.

This may sound hard, uncaring, or perhaps self-serving, but the reality is, if I let the wrong people control my time, my energy, and my life, I can’t adequately serve those who can benefit the most. 

It’s the same with you. You have to not only be willing but actually take the steps to exercise a certain measure of control over the resources you have.

And if you’re a giving person, a people pleaser, or someone who just likes to help others, you may find it difficult.

All Prospects Are Not Of Equal Value To You

There are five groups of clients, customers, or prospects. Some people you deal with are of more or less value to you than others… both as potential income sources as well as how much of your time and your life they require from you, and the emotional capital you’ll invest in them. 

It’s important for you to know who they are and what your relationship to them should be.

These groups have nothing to do with eligibility… whether or not they can benefit in one way or another from the products or services you sell or represent, or whether or not you convert them into buyers. 

“Eligibility” means… do they have the need or want for what you sell, the urgency to buy now, and the money to pay for it?

“Desirability”, on the other hand, has to do with whether or not you want to spend very much time either in trying to attract them as customers or whether or not you want to deal with them as customers on an ongoing basis.

Following is a brief description of each of the 5 groups, along with a place to identify which group your clients and/or prospects fall…

Great Clients 

These are the people you want to focus most of your time and effort on.

They’re busy people, enjoy what they do, are coachable, and are responsible.

They don’t know so much that they won’t listen to what you say. 

They may not always take your advice but at least they’ll listen, and if what you present makes sense to them and they can clearly see that it’s in their best interest to act on it, they’ll respond favorably.

They value their time and want good, helpful information given to them straight. 

They’re not pushovers or lay-downs and you’d better have all your ducks in a row and your information well organized before making a presentation.

They like business relationships and can be receptive to new ideas… especially if you present them in a way that clearly shows how those ideas will benefit them.

Sometimes Worth Helping Client

These people have potential. They’re not yet Great Clients but could end up being great. 

It’s easy to be deceived by these people. They sound like Great Clients but are weak when it comes to follow through. You ask them to get you certain information and a week later they still don’t have it for you.

They somehow don’t seem to place the same value, emphasis, or importance on time and follow through. 

When you begin working with them you quickly find that they need more hand holding, more follow up, and more phone calls to get them to do what they committed to do when you first talked to them.

They have good intentions but struggle to stay focused and let other things take priority and precedence, so they don’t have a great sense of urgency in following through. 

In dealing with these folks you must be firm.

You cannot tolerate any deviation from the commitments you both agreed to. You have to set the rules and make them abide by those rules if they want to do business with you. 

If you’re not firm upfront and every time you deal with them, they’ll drive you crazy with their disorganization and lack of commitment and follow through.

You’ll spend so much time with them that it will take away from the time you could be spending with other, more profitable clients.

If they don’t want to do things your way, there are plenty of other businesses out there who will bend over backwards just to make another sale or two and who don’t mind spending extra time with them. 

As for you? You can’t afford it.

There are other prospects and clients who will be willing to do things your way, and if you set yourself up as the desirable… no, strike that… as the only person, business, or concern to do business with right up front, you’ll have no problem in getting more of the kinds of clients you want.

Fun But Hopeless Client

These people have great personalities. They’re genuinely nice people but make lousy clients.

They’re fun to be around, you enjoy their company and your conversations with them, and they appear sincere and motivated, but they never follow through. 

They’re smart enough to know what they should do but they lack the discipline to change their fatal habits… habits that may someday get them in real trouble. 

You may enjoy a “friends” type of relationship, but you don’t need to be tied to these kinds of people business-wise.

Their intentions may be good but their lack of follow through and commitment can come back to bite you.

These people think that having a good excuse for not taking action is as good as taking action, and when an uncomfortable situation arises they will often pawn it off on you, saying that they didn’t understand the urgency or importance. 

Insurance agents, attorneys, stockbrokers, accountants, financial planners, doctors, and others who offer professional services can be particularly vulnerable.

An insurance agent, for instance, may bind coverage on a prospect and be waiting for the prospect to get the agent some additional information so they can complete the application and paperwork. 

But because of the prospect’s lack of follow through they don’t get the information to the agent on time and the “look-see”, grace, or underwriting period passes. Then a claim occurs and the insurance company denies the claim. 

The agent “bound” the coverage, but because the agent didn’t explain the urgency of the situation, the prospect assumed the claim was covered.

However, according to the insurance company and the way the policy was written, the time limit expired and the binder had run out. 

Now the agent has a problem… a problem that may end up not only costing them a client but having to be settled under their Errors and Emissions insurance.

Uses You For Information Client

This is an interesting group of people. These people often know what they want, know most of what they need to do to solve their situation, and won’t hesitate calling you to pick your brain for more information. 

They’re more interested in the “Transaction” as opposed to building a “Relationship”. These folks don’t necessarily care who you are, they’re more interested in what they can get from you. 

They have no qualms about shopping a number of businesses and companies for information and then buy from the lowest bidder or the cheapest source.

They feel that this is perfectly legitimate. 

They view businesses and salespeople as necessary evils, resent them making a profit or commission, and have no hesitation in taking advantage of them.

When asking questions in an attempt to help them get the best product or service, they’ll often respond by saying, “Just tell me what you have!”

They’re hesitant to give much information to a salesperson, but may explain a hypothetical situation and ask for the salesperson’s opinion as to what he or she would do. 

In many cases, by the time they get to you, they’re quite knowledgeable about your products because they have talked to a number of other salespeople either in person or on the telephone.

So they’ll sometimes debate you about the information you’ve given them and make you question whether your approach to their situation is reasonable. 

They tend to play devil’s advocate and no matter which side you take they’ll take the opposing viewpoint.

They don’t hesitate to tell others about how they got “the best deal” or how, if they need answers, they’ll just get on the phone and call around talking to other businesses to pick their brains with no intention of buying from them. 

They sometimes tend to be more interested in showing you how smart they are than in seeking your help and your conversation may end up in a debate with you trying to defend your professional position.

The best thing you can do is to identify these users as quickly as possible and run away from them as fast as you can. 

They’re shameless in how they use you. They may be one of your clients and they’re seeking to seek a solution for a problem they’re having.

You may have helped them in the past, but now they reach out to one of your competitors and even pay them for their advice…the same advice that you have given them in the past.

Then they turn around and call you and ask what you think of the information or instruction the competitor gave them.

You don’t need these kinds of people in your business… or your life.

They’re time vampires and will use their relationship or friendship with you to suck away your time and energy and end up doing nothing with the advice that you or your competitor gave them.

Doesn’t Trust Anybody Client

They just know that you’re out to get them… to take advantage of them. Businesses and salespeople are crooks who want their money and won’t give anything back in return.

They just expect to be betrayed and think that danger lurks around every corner.

They treat you suspiciously right from the start and consider you guilty until you can somehow prove you’re innocent. 

When you ask questions to determine how to best help them, they automatically become suspicious. They have tons of stories about how their business relationships always turn sour or how they’ve been taken in by a so-called friend.

They just know there’s an angle somewhere and they only need a little time to find it. 

The best you can do for yourself here is to recognize these non-trusters quickly, feel a little sorry for them and leave them to their paranoia and everything else they have to deal with.

So which prospects do you want to deal with, and which clients do you want in your database or book of business? Obviously, it’s the Great clients. 

You and I both know that it’s impossible for you to only deal with this group. But that’s not the point.

What you really want to do is determine how to quickly identify which group the person you’re talking with fits in and deal with them accordingly. 

You must be very careful, here. It’s very easy to pre-judge and miscategorize. You can make mistakes∫.

But just being aware of the different categories and how people in each of them think and operate can give you a heads up and can help you avoid spending too much time with the wrong group of people.

 About Martin Howey

Martin Howey helps executives leave their corporate jobs and start, run, and profit from their own highly profitable, in-demand business consulting practices. He has spent the past 50+ years helping more than 4,000 professionals in over 5-dozen countries monetize their skills, knowledge, and expertise, and pursue their passions in businesses of their own.

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