Following a conversation with the ever-witty Keith Reznick of Creative Training Solutions today, I'd like to talk about some of the objections that we all tend to get as consultants, no matter what our field of expertise is. It seems that some objections are just common fodder, no matter whether we're providing VOIP service or time management training. Some phrases just ring familiar, don't they? Here's today's objection that Keith and I were commiserating over:
My industry is so specific, and you haven't worked directly in this field. I need an industry expert that understands my specific industry.
All consultants who have heard this objection, raise your hands! (My, what a forest of wiggling fingers I see!) I run across this all the time with potential clients, who are convinced that their software solution or business product is just too complicated or specific for someone outside the industry to understand and relate to others.
If you're like me, you get a little defensive at this. I mean, for goodness' sake, I've presented revolutionary cancer treatments to doctors at neurology conferences; yes, literally brain surgery. I doubt that your business development software tool is really going to be much more complicated than that. And internally, I'm wondering: if your product is all that complicated to explain, how do you manage to promote it effectively in a short sales presentation?
But Mr. Reznick had a much better idea. He shared this tip with me. When a potential client brings up this objection, turn it around on him or her and put the full burden of explaining that difference on the client:
Excellent! My job is to make sure I understand those differences. What are the two or three biggest differences about your industry that I need to know to be effective?
This does a few things. First, it unleashes the private vault of hidden information that your potential client feels so proprietary about. Second, it give the client a chance to be the superstar analyst for being the one wise enough to gather and relate that information. Let's face it, keeping your hand on the pulse of an industry and noting subtle changes as well as over-reaching trends and needs is a specialized skill, and your potential client does have a right to be concerned about it. And third, it gets the client talking and gives you a chance to ask questions and further the conversation.
What about you? How do you deal with the industry-specific snobbery issue?