It's getting worse. I'm hearing it from both my business and corporate clients. There's a clear delineation between how people interact and how they run their business.
Look — I coach CEO's, CMO's, SVP's, Executives, Attorneys, Doctors, Wall Street Financiers, Business Owners, etc. So I've seen it all.
Has this ever happened to you?
- You've gone on 7-10 interviews and are ready for an offer and then suddenly they say the position is on-hold or gone.
- You've presented in front of a client multiple times and it's a done deal — then they disappear.
- Prospects show extreme interest then they don't return your calls and emails.
- Your client disappears for weeks on end then it's hurry-up, hurry-up.
- Clients who hold back payments for completed service for weeks/months or they debate the fee even though they agreed to it prior to the engagement.
- You meet someone and they show EXTREME interest in your product/service, but when you call them to confirm your lunch/coffee, they act like they don't even know you OR they never answer the phone.
- They're your friend and close client one day — and the next, they're questioning every price and moving on to another service provider.
Guess what? Here's the reason — let me break it down for you:
- 40% of the people you work with act like ADULTS.
- 30% of the people you work with act like TEENS.
- 30% of the people you work with act like CHILDREN.
What do I mean?
ADULTS - The 40%
These are the acquaintances, prospects, and clients who act NORMALLY. They are responsible, they follow up on their promises, they return phone calls and emails on time, they pay on-time, and are generally easy to navigate and get along with. They're reasonable and are satisfied with the product/service delivered.
These are the keepers — treat them like GOLD.
TEENS - The 30%
These are the acquaintances, prospects, and clients who act like TEENS. They are fine most of the time and are easy to do business with, but there are times when they act irrationally. For no good reason. They get emotional, they shut down, they bite back.
It's usually for a good reason — their business is hurting, they just lost a key team member or client, or the industry is changing. Unfortunately, they take it out on YOU. It's not fair, but that's business.
Most of the time — they just need a shoulder to cry on or just someone to listen to them. Be there for them and they will be your client for life. Be flexible, modify your offering, help them get through this bump in their career or business.
CHILDREN - The 30%
These are the acquaintances, prospects, and clients who act IRRATIONALLY all the time or from the outset of your relationship. You've probably run into these people — they treat you like SHIT. They don't care if their behavior impacts your business. They see you are calling and emailing — they won't give you the benefit of a simple phone call.
These acquaintances, prospects, and clients need a firm slap in the face. At the end of the day, you really have nothing to lose. You need to get their attention in a very calculated way. Here are some suggestions:
- Stop playing nice - shut them down. Be cordial and professional, but when you call them say, "I get the feeling you might be too busy to return my calls and I understand that. Unfortunately, this will be my last communication with you. Good luck with your endeavors and I hope you have a great 2012." When you step back, they usually follow and call you.
- Escalate the interaction. Stop by their office (especially if they owe you money) and ask to see them. Say, "Hey, I was just in the neighborhood and thought I would stop by." Get in their face — smile and engage them.
- Appeal to their nobler motives (this usually doesn't work with children). Call them and let them know you've been trying to contact them for weeks or months. Say you've tried to be professional — but your just going to have to let them go. But before you hang up, give them some bait, "I had a really good prospect, report, idea, connection for you — oh well."
The most important behavior is to escalate the interaction in some way. This economy has sent a lot of people into a scarcity/cocoon mode. They don't want to make decisions (even though they know they have to), they don't want to spend money (even though it's imperative they do), and they display aberrant behavior that burns bridges constantly.
They think they can get by with this behavior — but it's just slowly digging a deep hole for them.
So when you run into an adult — cherish them! A teen — ask questions, listen, and help them through this bump. Children — escalate the interaction — you have nothing to lose.
I'd love to hear your experiences and if you have a different percentage breakdown — LET ME KNOW!