You may find this disgusting… I like cottage cheese. In fact, I eat about three pounds of the stuff a week. (OK, now you’re REALLY disgusted!) And, knowing me as you might, you won’t be surprised to learn that I eat only one style cottage cheese – small curd with chives – produced by one specific dairy.
After opening and consuming a couple of 24 oz. containers of the stuff a week for a couple of decades, I’ve developed a certain awareness of consistency, curd size, and flavor. For example, I notice that cottage cheese in some containers is a little goopier than cottage cheese in others.
I don’t find the differences irritating or off-putting so long as the variability in viscosity falls within a narrow range. While the dairy’s production is quite consistent, I still find myself wondering, when I open a new container, “how goopy is this going to be?”
I have a similar thought about a guy who takes orders at a pizza place near me. Some days he’s “up”, friendly to a fault; others days, he’s noticeably more reserved. When I go to his store, I find myself wondering, “who will I be meeting today, Mr. Friendly or Mr. Reserved?” I actually DO find these differences off-putting. I go to his store because I like the pizza and also because I enjoy his “Mr. Friendly” at the end of a long day.
Our clients may feel the same way about us. Over time, they develop perceptions of us based on our behavior and style in working with them. To some extent, they choose to work with us as consultants or sales people because they like, feel comfortable with, and prefer our style to other sellers’ styles. While they may tolerate some variations around the style they prefer, there is still, probably, an acceptable range.
If we look at our roles as, first, creating desirable client experiences and, second, selling product or services, we need to think about “For whom are we creating experiences?” and “What client experiences do we want to create for them?” As one friend put it, “This isn’t just about giving clients the right answers; it’s about giving them a good ride.” To which I’d add, “Tailored for them, delivered consistently.”
The whey forward:
- How would you characterize your style or behavioral brand with clients? [Alternatively: How do you think your clients would characterize your style and behavioral brand?]
- Which elements of your “style brand” and client experience seem to play best with your clients?
- How much variation do you think your clients experience with you? What’s their tolerance for that?
- What could you do to reduce the variability and do more of what seems to play best?
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