Last week we looked at selling versus helping, from Zig Ziglar’s viewpoint that you should just stop selling and start helping, to getting paid to help in a field where clients are not accustomed to paying for it.
In addition to all that stuff, something that has thrown me for a bit of a loop recently was a twitter post from a business coach.
I have been following Leanne Hoagland-Smith (a.k.a. Coach Lee) for several months and she posts lots of great stuff. But then a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised that she was telling people to stop pushing the fact that they wanted to help.
She was encouraging people to stop saying that they were there to help, since so many clients, when they hear the word “help”, now actually mentally substitute the word “sell”.
What? Was Zig wrong? Or is his messge now out of date?
So I started thinking about it, and I realize that maybe the word “help” does get overused, and maybe it isn’t much “softer on the ears”. Maybe Coach Lee is right. But then where does that leave us?
Maybe we should no longer emphasize that we want to help, maybe we need to say that we want to “work with” people to achieve certain results.
After all, much of what we offer in business family consulting isn’t content (a product) but much more assistance with process issues, the “how” more than the “what”. We don’t really want to do things FOR clients as much as work through things WITH them, to the point where they can do these things on their own, without our “help”.
So perhaps the real answer is that while we should still start helping (à la Zig) we shouldn’t SAY that we want to help (à la Coach Lee). The key might be to show some help, do some helping, just help, but not use the word, talk about it, or ever say out loud that we are helping.
In the process of receiving our help, clients will soon feel like we have become “indespensible”, to the point where we don’t have to sell them anything, because they will be so ready to buy from us.
Maybe what Zig was really getting at was that we should just start to make things easier for people. This reminds me of the word “facilitator”, as in “facile”, which is the closest translation into French that I can think of for the word “easy”.
But if I am actually making things easier, am I not helping? Well yes, but saying you want to help may be about as poorly received as saying that you want to facilitate. Very few people wake up in the morning and decide that they are going to find themselves a facilitator, even if that may be just what they need.
When speaking to classmates and colleagues in this area, I often make the distinction that while there is a great deal of need for our services, there is not necessarily a lot of demand.
Many potential clients do not know that they could use our services. A large part of the reason stems from the fact that they do not know who we are, what we do, and how we can help, without them feeling like we sold them anything.
As we mature as an industry, we need to do a better job of explaining how much of a diffference we can make with family businesses, and more importantly, with business families.