How do clients know you’re any good?

People are judging things (you) all the time. You’ve probably heard people say that they don’t trust men with beards, or that you won’t get a reliable product from someone who doesn’t polish their shoes. It’s strange I know.

These ‘complex equivalences’ are found in all sorts of other areas too:

  • The best shampoo is foamy. Not true. Lather has nothing to do with cleanliness. Neither does the zesty perfume.
  • The best headphones are heavier. Not true. We just perceive weight as meaning quality. And the same applies to serving drinks in heavy tumblers.
  • The best vacuum cleaners are loudest. Not true. Although we think a louder motor means more suction. The same is true of motorbikes, louder bikes are faster and more powerful. Not true.

When people think X = Y, even when X and Y are unrelated, their belief influences their decisions and actions.

Obviously our prospects aren’t using foamier, heavier, or louder criteria to judge your consultancy services. So, how do they judge if you’re any good?

I once had a client who, when asked why they bought from me, replied …

“It’s because you and your team all made notes in Black n’ Red notebooks. I knew you had a complete record of what had been said and that made me comfortable doing business with you. Your competitor wrote their notes on the back of the slide deck copy we gave them. I didn’t trust them.”

That may seem weird to you. (Perhaps it is weird.) But, I’m not complaining, I secured a £½M deal on the back of using a Black n’ Red notebook. 

Back then I didn’t know how to elicit the client’s complex equivalences. Nowadays I find out what they are as part of the sales conversation. Because sometimes clients need to be persuaded that X ≠ Y.

How useful would it be for you to do the same?