“Nobody loves your baby like you do.”
We talk a lot about the need to develop business acumen and ask questions about your client’s business practices. If you’re not a seasoned business owner yourself, you might not recognize or appreciate the incredible value and connection that comes from those conversations – they can be priceless – for you and for the client.
Owning a business can be an all-consuming endeavor where you spend most of your waking hours thinking about various details that need to be addressed on a daily basis. Finding and actually taking the time to think about the big picture and strategy of the business can sometimes feel like a luxury.
When you, as a producer, are asking questions that make the owner talk about the vision or really study the financials, strategies, and processes of his own business, you’re not taking up limited and valuable time simply pitching your product. Taking time to be genuinely curious, ask in-depth questions, and have a conversation about the practices of the business, not only provides you with extremely valuable insight for developing solutions for your client, but you’re also giving him or her the opportunity to think and talk strategically about her own business.
I’ve yet to meet a business owner who doesn’t love an opportunity to talk about her business – use that to your advantage! Talking to someone about his business is akin to talking to a parent about his kids – a little genuine interest and a heartfelt connection can go a long way in developing a relationship.
In his book, Fire Someone Today, Bob Pritchett refers to a business owner as a proud parent and his business as his baby, seeing it through a “lens of hope, full of potential”. Owners look at their businesses not for just what it is today, but also for what it’s going to be. As Bob notes, “Nobody can match an entrepreneur’s passion and enthusiasm for her business,” but if you can tap into that passion and allow them to share that vision and enthusiasm with you, then you’ve been given an opportunity to help them realize that vision.
Depending on the client and the size of the business, you may be allowing them to talk about and analyze their business at a deeper and more strategic level than they might have on a regular basis. Or if they do regularly take the time to work on the business in this way, then perhaps you’re providing a fresh outside perspective with your questions or insights – which is necessary and worthwhile for any business.
Keep in mind, the more you understand about how a business makes and keeps money, the better questions you’re able to ask to really connect with the owner and provide her with strategic value.
Photo by Oregon DOT.