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Responsiveness vs. Process: Is there a right answer?

You might be tired of me mentioning this book yet again, but the fact that I'm still writing about it should tell you that it's really good.

My epiphanies while reading The Power of Moments have been trickling in because my Mastermind group has been slowly reading it over the last few months. I love that because it really gives us the opportunity to process what we've read, discuss how we might implement the ideas, and get feedback from each other.

We finished the book during our last meeting and once again the discussion was really helpful to all of us. Toward the end of the meeting, I brought up a sentence in the book that really made me think:

Responsiveness is not compatible with a canned agenda.

Now, in some ways this goes against everything I've learned in the last few years about business, and specifically working with financial advisors. I've even drunk the Kool-Aid in my own business and have felt confident that clients not only like business processes...they're comforted by them. By having a set process in place, they know exactly what to expect. I even tell my clients to outline their process on their websites so that any prospective client will know upfront exactly how they work. Click on my homepage (in a minute - finish reading this first). I've done the same thing.

However, clients also want responsiveness - that is, they want personal attention. They want to talk to you about their problems. They want a conversation about their specific issue and what you can do for them. Yes, it's good that you have a process in place, but no client wants to feel like a number.

After reading this sentence, I thought about how I actually run my business. I've niched myself and I have a clear outline of what I offer and what I outsource (or businesses I connect with as referral partners). And while any potential client can come to my website and see what I offer, NO ONE has ever hired me just by the information I have on my site.

They hire me after I've talked to them.

I listen to what they need. I tell them what I offer. Usually, the information we exchange is predictable: They need exactly what I offer and what I respond with is nothing different than what's on the website. Our personal conversation usually leads to them choosing the package that everyone else chooses. But the fact that I'm establishing a connection and responding to each request personally - and with a process in place - is what seals the deal.

So, while "responsiveness is not compatible with a CANNED agenda," I DO think it's compatible with an agenda. In fact, I think that's the winning combo. Have a process in place and then have a conversation that makes the process sound like it's custom made for the potential client. Be clear about what you offer, but listen to the client before you offer it.

As Oprah always says, "We all just want to be heard."

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