The Elephant in the Room
The elephant in the room is the preconception, often negative, a prospective client brings to the table when they think about your profession. In a lot of cases, the elephant offers an opportunity to build trust, depending on how you handle it.
John Ray: [00:00:00] Hello. I’m John Ray on the Price and Value Journey.
John Ray: [00:00:03] Years ago, I had coffee with a financial advisor, and during that meeting, he told me that one of the attributes of his firm that he was most proud of was the average length of tenure for financial advisors at the firm. He said, “I think it was about nine years, if I recall correctly, while the average length of firm tenure for the average financial adviser in the industry was nine months.”
John Ray: [00:00:30] Now, I was in a chamber group with this professional and I asked him why he had never mentioned this in our meetings, as I thought it was an important differentiator. I don’t remember his answer and not much else, frankly, about what we talked about in that meeting, but I remember this particular fact. I haven’t seen him in a long time, but I looked him up recently and he’s still with that firm here years later, so he and his colleagues must be doing something right.
John Ray: [00:01:03] For this financial adviser, this length of tenure issue was his elephant in the room. You see, the elephant in the room is the preconception a prospective client brings to the table when they think about your profession. For financial advisors, clients wonder whether they’re going to change firms because financial advisors jump around. If you’re an attorney, the elephant is most likely charging by the hour. Everyone remembers the bill they got for that six-minute phone call. If you’re a CPA, it might be not returning calls or answering emails during tax season.
John Ray: [00:01:46] It could be something which isn’t profession-specific. Age is one example. I was running an investment management firm at age 29 and that was a big elephant I had to deal with at that time. It could be that you’re a solopreneur and the client is wondering what happens to their work if they hire you, and then you get hit by the proverbial beer truck. Now, I know it’s not intuitive, and sometimes, it might be uncomfortable, but I’ve come to believe that it’s always helpful to call out the elephant in the room.
John Ray: [00:02:22] If you don’t bring it up, the prospect often will, and you might as well deal with that elephant in your own way. Now, if the prospect doesn’t ask about it, that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it, they might just be letting that question fester, and out of courtesy or some other reason, they’re not asking the question. They may be hoping you bring it up yourself. In any case, that question sticking in their crawl won’t get resolved and it will work against you if it doesn’t.
John Ray: [00:02:58] Further, if the prospect has a problem with your elephant even after you’ve addressed it, then you’ve done both you and the client of favor, you’ve quickly figured out that the two of you aren’t a fit, and you’ve granted yourself the freedom to move on. The most important reason to pet the elephant and talk about it is that doing so builds trust with clients, and all of us, as professional services providers, are in the trust business.
John Ray: [00:03:28] If you’re willing to initiate and calmly engage in a particularly thorny discussion about this elephant or anything else for that matter, your trustworthiness in the mind of the client goes way up. And that’s even true for the clients who don’t select you, by the way. Your willingness to talk about the elephant is a sign you’ll be straight with them during the engagement when problems arise, and that’s what clients are looking for. So, what’s your elephant? And how do you address it?
John Ray: [00:04:05] I’m John Ray on the Price and Value Journey. Past episodes of this series can be found on your favorite podcast app\ or you can go to pricevaluejourney.com. And you can also send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for joining me.
About The Price and Value Journey
The title of this show describes the journey all professional services providers are on: building a services practice by seeking to convince the world of the value we offer, helping clients achieve the outcomes they desire and trying to do all that at pricing which reflects the value we deliver.
If you feel like you’re working too hard for too little money in your solo or small firm practice, this show is for you. Even if you’re reasonably happy with your practice, you’ll hear ways to improve both your bottom line as well as the mindset you bring to your business.
John Ray, Host of The Price and Value Journey
John Ray is the host of The Price and Value Journey.
John owns Ray Business Advisors, a business advisory practice. John’s services include advising solopreneur and small professional services firms on their pricing. John is passionate about the power of pricing for business owners, as changing pricing is the fastest way to change the profitability of a business. His clients are professionals who are selling their “grey matter,” such as attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, consultants, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners.
In his other business, John is a Studio Owner, Producer, and Show Host with Business RadioX®, and works with business owners who want to do their own podcast. As a veteran B2B services provider, John’s special sauce is coaching B2B professionals to use a podcast to build relationships in a non-salesy way which translate into revenue.
John is the host of North Fulton Business Radio, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio, Nashville Business Radio, Alpharetta Tech Talk, and Business Leaders Radio. house shows which feature a wide range of business leaders and companies. John has hosted and/or produced over 1,300 podcast episodes.