Big Client. Big Money. (Big intimidation. Or, not?) | Top 10 Tips For Handling Yourself In Those Moments, Part 1
Have you ever been in a business meeting, talked with a potential joint venture partner, or been in the middle of a conversation with a new client and…the word millionaire or billionaire comes up?
I was shadowing a client this weekend, charged to provide backup for/feedback on the meeting, when out pops the ‘b’ word. Personally, it’s the third time in a year I’ve experienced the word in a meaningful way. Note: I’m not referring to “I want to be a billionaire” or iterations of that. I mean…
“Insert name, the billionaire real estate tycoon, is interested in investing in the project and will be attending the next board meeting. We need you to help with…”
“The investor wants the schedule moved up, and expects deliverables in the next 6 months. He wasn’t happy with our idea of starting in 2010. With $50million per project and 4 projects on the go, we’re not going to disappoint this billionaire.”
“Well, NAME, who funds us, didn’t like the first ideas, and suggested that we try XYZ. I told him that’s what we’d do!”
As a business coach, I find the effect of the word on people can be very educational, and their behaviour in the face of ‘all that money’ telling. How would YOU feel, or react, do you think? As the saying in the ‘law of attraction’ arena goes, and I paraphrase, ‘The world is awash in money — are you showing up with your teaspoons?’
In debriefing the meeting from the weekend, a remark was made about the ‘billionaire’ in the conversation. I agreed, saying that yes, having someone like that on the team can be very… ‘fortifying.’ The word got a laugh, but the fact is I’ve been blessed to work with slightly famous and/or truly wealthy clients throughout my career, and that really is the best word I know for it.
If you let it, the presence of big money in a meeting you’re in can have a solid, grounded, motivating influence. But it can also be extremely unnerving.
Which brings me to the Top 10 Tips For Handling Yourself In Those Sometimes Breathtaking Moments With Very High End Clients. This applies to any situation in which there is a significant amount of money in the room, not necessarily billions.
(1) Don’t be overeager/gush/be awed by celebrity or fame.
This is one of the most off-putting energies you can bring to the table. In fact, one of the biggest ways you can distinguish yourself working with affluent clients is your lack of flightiness. As thrilling as the opportunity might be, standing solidly on your own two feet, comfortable in your value, you will signal your likely ability to work well together long term.
As Ruth Ann Harnisch and Renee Freedman bring home in their work, everyone - regardless of the dollars to their name – has value to contribute. It’s not enough to say ‘don’t gush’ because what’s needed is access to an inner place of certitude about your personal value. In the face of that certainty, such gushing energy becomes highly out of place, allergic, intolerable.
(2) Be cautious of default ‘yes’ answers.
There’s nothing less professional (and personally deflating) than to be all ’Yes-person’ and have to backtrack later.
Consider carefully your response to requests. In the presence of money, and, likely, great vision and passion, it can be easy to start tripping over a series of breathless ‘Yes, yes, of course.’
Look for a yes answer within yourself that’s based on fact and emotion. By extension, be conservative. Most wealthy business owners have done a lot to earn their wealthy status, and they appreciate people around them who ‘underpromise, overdeliver’ more than most.
(3) Don’t ask if something is possible. Know that it is, it’s just a question of resources.
As you know, the language you use advertises your mindset. Take, for instance, the difference between these two questions:
“We are looking for XYZ features and service. Will you be able to do that for us?”
“We are looking for XYZ. How much will that cost?”
The distinction is between ‘is it possible’ and ‘everything is possible with enough resources.’ An important difference, particularly when (i) representing a wealthy client and, even closer to home, (ii) receiving an inquiry from a potential wealthy client.
(4) Turn down money. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do.
Over the years, I’ve seen very little that earns respect as quickly from affluent clients than if you turn down money. This isn’t a suggestion to be manipulative about this – it’s likely to backfire. But in the right set of circumstances, it being better for the client or the project, seize the opportunity to proactively save the client money.
Again, you can only do this is you are clear-headed and truly advocating for your client. By doing so, you earn your stripes and more often than not, a great deal of trust, to boot. Treat your clients’ money -wealthy or not! – as well as you would your own.
(5) Ask for the opportunity to start small.
A particularly good tactic if you’re new to working with affluent clients. Getting started, you’ll undoubtedly be in for a bit of a personal stretch. Instead of diving into the deep end, often you can request to chunk a project into smaller pieces. As you deliver and bank some wins, your confidence will grow, and your personal evolution will catch up to your client opportunity.
You’ll be ready for the bigger gig, and can accept with a calmer frame of mind.
Does the idea of working with affluent clients thrill yet depress you? This is a classic case of outward desire meeting inner resistance.
Outwardly, you’ve heard it’s ‘the thing’ to do, since affluent clients are those very special ones that don’t go away in a recession, or so the myth says. Internally, though, you feel strangely lethargic about it?
If the biggest gig of your life – dream gig – were to land in front of you in the form of a note with a name and phone number inscribed with ‘CALL TODAY!’ …what would you do? Would you know what you’d say no to in your business, to make room for this?
As we work together as a community of business owners and forward-thinkers, adding value each day, what else comes up when you think about your Next Big Gig and the trajectory it’s trying to take to reach you?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Top 10 Tips For Handling Yourself Well With Affluent Clients.