Being Straightforward in Client Management

By Michael Perla on Jul 31, 2012

What she learned from her father ... and then sold over $1B dollars worth ...

Glennis’ father was a doctor. She used to accompany him on his rounds at the hospital and still remembers the tough discussions he had to have with his patients about life and death. Most of us in business don’t have to deal with life and death issues, although it sometimes feels that way if you lose a big deal or your customer champion leaves or is fired.Glennis too has had to have some tough discussions with her clients. Some have lost millions in real estate and their houses are now underwater – they owe more than it’s worth. These are not easy discussions either. I remember her composure and demeanor when during our interview she told us about those conversations. She said that she owed it to her clients to tell them the truth and not sugar-coat things or lead them astray. Given that she has sold over $1B in residential real estate, I took that advice to heart.

There is something about an advisor who will tell you the truth and not try to be a “yes” person, of which there are plenty of those. Telling clients the truth about their business or assets can be hard and some will be mad or resentful, but others will cherish the honesty and forever have trust in your guidance.

As one of my former colleagues used to say, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.”

For sellers that are looking to move to trusted advisor status, being candid is a good principle to live by. As Jim Champy told us (our 3rd Top Performer interview), however, being empathetic to the fragility of a client’s emotional state is also important and shouldn’t be over-looked when being a “straight-shooter”.

Like most things, you have to use your best judgment in terms of candidness, but being forthright and direct is often refreshing and appreciated in a world of spin, political machinations, and watered-down platitudes.

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a strategic leader and co-author of Symmetrics Group’s book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. Having sold and led projects with the Global 50 to Fortune 1000 companies, Michael provides the analytical rigor of a financial analyst with the holistic skills of a strategist to help Symmetrics Group clients improve marketing or sales performance. He has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning, in addition to a sales effectiveness consultant. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and watching his kids play sports.

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