I have been an advocate for outcome-based conversations for years now.
This started after I’d read the Alan Weiss book Value Based Fees. This book highlights the difference between project deliverables and client outcomes.
That distinction between deliverables and outcomes helped me a lot.
At the time I was facilitating team building events. Reading the book I realised my clients didn’t want a team building event. That’s a deliverable. They wanted to end the friction between siloed departments; And improve creative collaboration between key executives; And increase staff retention by creating a great place to work.
Those are all desirable outcomes that create value.
But, to focus on client outcomes consistently I had to change my mindset … which was a challenge for me. I didn’t have a guide to help me.
Now, if I had to start all over again (as a beginner), this is the simple framework I’d use:
Step 1: Shift from problem to outcome framing.
People tend to talk about the problems they have, not the outcomes they want to create. That is often disempowering. It’s relatively easy to shift the conversation with the right questions.
Step 2: Get people to describe the impact of their desired outcome.
Get them thinking about what is “increasing”, “improving”, “eliminating”. These three verbs will help you highlight the potential value of achieving the outcome.
Step 3: Practice often, and away from clients.
Outcome framing becomes easier the more you do it. Practice first in low risk situations – with partners, family, friends, and colleagues. That allows you to learn, make mistakes, and refine what you do. Do it with clients once you’ve got it embedded as a habit.
When you’re first starting out, this mindset shift and practicing it is all that matters.