How to Get Your Clients to Trip Over the Truth


For the last few months, I've been participating in a mastermind group that I LOVE. If you've never been in one or you're currently in one that doesn't keep you motivated, I recommend finding a group that encourages and educates you as much as mine does. It's a business-changer.

One of our recent "assignments" was to read The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. I highly recommend this book both personally and professionally; it's readable, relatable, and truly inspiring. It will make you want to create memorable moments with your clients and your family in simple yet impactful ways.

In Chapter 5, the Heaths discuss "tripping over the truth" - that is, not outright telling someone what needs to be done, which sometimes doesn't have the effect we want, but leading them to the answer we want them to discover. We don't give them the solution - we dramatize the problem and allow them to see that a solution needs to be found.

Tripping over the truth is an insight that packs an emotional wallop. When you have a sudden realization, one that you didn't see coming, and one that you know viscerally is right, you've tripped over the truth. It's a defining moment that in an instant can change the way you see the world.

But why does that matter?

I had to think about this for a minute. Why did this resonate with me so much? Why did I love this concept? The authors will tell you that it's because when you just focus on the solution, it comes across as "sales-y" and I do think that's a big part of it. While our clients are looking to us to solve a problem, sometimes when we approach it like, "You need to do [this] and [this] and [this]" I think it sometimes makes them feel bad and there's a little shame attached to the solution.

However, especially in the service industry space, when I'm led to where I need to go I actually go further. I have more ideas and feel like I have a hand in the outcome. It becomes more of a collaboration between me and the person who's helping me.

You KNOW you've had those moments (I had one just this morning as a matter of fact) when you're talking to a client and asking the right questions and they say, "What I need to do is ______. I didn't realize it until I said it out loud." You can tell they've had an epiphany and they're proud of themselves. And then they're often a more active participant in the process.

This is also true in personal relationships (and if you haven't tried this, I highly recommend that you do). Think about when you want your spouse or kids to do something: If you outright tell them, "This is what we're doing" you often get pushback. But if you gently lead them in the direction you want them to go, things usually go a little smoother. (Please don't tell my kids that I do that.)

Concentrating on the experience

One of the best examples in the book of tripping over the truth was when a group of professors were working on their lesson plans for the upcoming semester and were asked, essentially, what they want for their students in the future: How do they want their students to approach the world after college? Through a simple exercise, many teachers found out that what they were teaching wasn't actually leading their students to their desired outcome. Yes, they were relaying necessary information, but their courses weren't giving the students the overall experience they needed to be successful.

After going through this exercise, the professors were more inspired and energized when it came to creating their syllabi - and no one was standing there saying, "You need to follow these five steps to create your lesson plan." By doing this exercise, they tripped over a truth they already knew, but were able to move forward in a way that benefited both them and their students.

The same simple questions could be asked of any one of us when it comes to our business:

  • What do we want our clients to get out of working with us in the next month, year, five years?

  • How do we want them to feel?

  • Is the process I have in place giving them that experience?

  • How can I help my clients "trip over the truth"? How can I be more of a guide, that leads them to their desired outcome?

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