We sat quite comfortably in her ground floor office, the 10:00 am sunlight brightening the room almost to the point I considered sunglasses. Our first meeting. She had inherited Clarity as a service provider following a significant organizational change. She was aware of us. She’d heard good things about our work from a number of her colleagues both before and after the organizational changes. And this was our first meeting
Our 45 minute conversation was energetic, a good get-acquainted session. After she shared the lay of the land – her view of her company’s objectives, the organizational changes, immediate priorities, strengths, gaps to be filled, culture, and values, she asked about ours – where have we come from, what are our guiding philosophies, the breadth of our services, and so on – and I was happy to share.
As we wound toward the end of the conversation, we focused “down in the weeds,” resolving logistics and next steps for an ongoing project in which we are participating.
That finished, the conversation paused. We looked at each other for a moment, maybe seven seconds, me thinking that we were each confirming for ourselves that we’d covered everything we needed to cover, the next step being “thank you and good bye.”
Then, without blinking, she leaned forward slightly and asked, “Why do you want to work with us, Nick?”
She hit the “Nick” in that question with a little extra emphasis. “Why do you want to work with us, Nick?” I was caught off guard, like taking a passed basketball on the side of the head while looking the other way.
I couldn’t recall a time when client or prospect had asked me that question. They’ve asked questions about my education and experience, they’ve asked questions about Clarity and its services, they’ve asked about our business philosophies, they’ve asked questions about my family history, and never THAT question: “Why do you want to work with us?”
“I’m thinking,” I replied, considering all that she’d shared with me that morning.
“Take your time,” she said, leaning back in her chair, quiet, her eyes steady on my face.
Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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