Standing in your clients' shoes

As a planner, you are constantly influencing others to accept you, your ideas, products or services.

Standing in your clients' shoes

As a planner, you are constantly influencing others to accept you, your ideas, products or services.

Public speaker, coach and author, Roger Ellerton explains where you might be going wrong and how to improve:

Many people have difficulty influencing others because they tend to use the same strategies and emphasise the same needs and values with other people that they would like other people to use with them. Alternatively, they take the ‘spray and pray’ approach, hoping their clients will find something useful in the information provided.

Each of us has different needs and different strategies for buying. To be truly effective at influencing others, you need to view the situation from their perspective; that is, to determine what is important to them and how they like to purchase.


Far too often we think it’s the product or service that people want to buy. In reality, people buy the benefit that the product or service provides. If you are not certain what is important to your client, you will not be able to present your products or services clearly. Having an understanding of your client’s needs and values can:

  • Shorten the whole influence process
  • Provide a better understanding of how to present your offering
  • Lead to a better agreement for both parties
  • Give you an opportunity to suggest something the other person forgot, did not think was possible, or that was out of their awareness
  • Create a firmer foundation on which to conclude this and future interactions positively

How do you become the difference that makes the difference? Begin by asking questions. Listen
for what is important to your client and how they express what is important to them.

Some clients will come to you with their minds already made up as to what is the best product for them, having usually obtained ‘expert’ advice from their friends or an internet search. They may be incorrect, but rather than telling them why their choice is not a good idea given the current financial climate, or simply offering the best available product, acknowledge their choice and explore the reason behind it. Once you have clearly identified the underlying need or value, you can raise the possibility that this need could be addressed in ways that provide additional benefits.

With some people, you may have to ask lots of questions. With others, you may have to interrupt politely to ask questions to get them back on track.

A client’s needs and values can be intangible, such as respect, or tangible, such as a monthly payment that is within their budget. Having an understanding of your client’s specific needs and values provides clarity on what is truly important to them and will help you recognise where you can
compromise, suggest trade-offs or hold firm.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 on how you can specify and remember your clients' needs by using a simple acronym, then read between the lines to deliver on those needs.