Listen to the audio version of this week’s tidbit here!

My friend Shawn Veltman, the co-author of my upcoming new book, and the co-host of The Evergreen Show shared a story with me the other day.

“A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my good friends who’s involved in wealth management, financial planning, and tax strategies for small to mid-size companies. I loved what he was sharing with me, and it just so happens I was meeting with my accountant later that week. I decided to mention one of the strategies he shared to my accountant and asked him why we hadn’t been utilizing that strategy?”

His response kind of shocked me. He said, “What your friend told you is nothing new. We’ve been doing that for other clients for years now. We can easily take advantage of that. Is that something you want to do?”

Whoa! Shawn was a bit fazed by the response! Why had he never mentioned this in the past? The result, by the way, would save Shawn a ton of money (and quickly cover his accountant’s fees year over year…)

One of the things that Shawn and I teach our clients about is being very careful to minimize the distance between the implicit message and explicit message when talking to clients. The explicit message here is “We’re experts in that field, we can do that!”

But the implicit message is, “We didn’t know enough about you to suggest this, and we expected that you would know enough about what we offer to tell us what you wanted to do. We think that you should be figuring out the work that you need from us, rather than ensuring that we offer those services to you.”

Those are two very different messages, and it’s easy (but incredibly harmful) to send both at the same time.

As somebody who’s been in similar situations myself, I can empathize with the accountant here–there were times early in my career when people would ask me for recommendations for sales trainers, or speakers, or any of the other things that I offer as part of my skill set. What I realized was that I’d done a terrible job communicating to them that I could do those things, and I’d done an even worse job of staying in touch with them to figure out what they needed or what I should be suggesting to them.

One of the biggest punches to the gut is when you’re talking to a long time client, and they say “I was talking to somebody the other day, and they recommended I do X. That’s a great idea, isn’t it?”

Especially when you, yourself are an expert in X.

You want to say, “Why didn’t you come to me about that?” or “That’s not a new idea, I can tell you all about it,”

But you didn’t tell them about it. You failed.

You expected that it was your client’s responsibility to find new ways to give you money, rather than finding that out yourself. Shame on you (and shame on me, when I’ve been guilty of this!)

If you are in sales, and you aren’t doing this on a regular basis; or if you’re expecting your clients and prospects to be pouring over your website and marketing materials; or if you’re expecting them to ask you for exactly what they need–then no matter what’s on your business card, you’re not a salesperson, you’re an order taker, and you should be paid about $3 above minimum wage.

It’s never your client’s job to tell you they want to buy more – it’s your job to figure out what your clients need, and how what you offer can fit into their needs.

One of my current clients was telling me that back in the 90s he used to send coffee mugs to his existing clients that simply said, “Did you know we can help with X?” He would replace X with a product or service an existing client hadn’t bought from them, and the promotion always worked remarkably well.

The key lesson here is this: It’s not our customer’s job to figure out the value we can bring and how we can help them. It’s up to us!

Your Challenge For This Week: Pick your top ten clients and identify a product or service that you can introduce to them. Of course, this challenge will require you to have some way to identify what every current client has and hasn’t bought, and all the opportunities that are ripe for picking with your existing customer base. If you don’t, get in touch!

All the best,

P.S. If you haven’t checked out The Evergreen Show yet, you’ll want to subscribe with the podcast app on your iPhone. Check it out here! Also, don’t forget the Tuesday Tidbits are now available in audio format from iTunes. Those are available here.