Who Needs Training: Who Gets to Decide

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    My last article about Was the Guy Who Won the Client’s Audition Better than You? may have really seemed off-topic to some, and my apologies to those who didn’t find my sentiment to their liking, but I think it was a valid point. Maybe I can re-address it here in different and more positive terms with a shorter story.

    While my article may have been illustrative of a training situation, it is not probably one common to many of us. It is to me because I am a voice actor, actor/director, communicator and trainer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to think in terms of absolutes. There is the trend to put everything with a number–the three things you need to know, ten ways to do this or that, five secrets to wealth and posterity.

    Pardon my substandard English: It ain’t possible! While the number gives an absolute answer–and absolute answers are comforting, life is too complicated to be set in stone. From my customer service days I have a different perspective regarding clients.

    Clients are our livelihood; there is no denying that. Without clients, we cannot survive. But we have to engage them in a professional, oftentimes subtle way. Clients have to want you–and you in particular if your business relationship is to become successful.

    We all need help, but we like to ask for it. A subtle offering, a soft sell may be the answer.

    I played tennis when I was younger. I used to go off by myself and practice serves in a local court. One day, an older woman in her sixties was watching me play.

    “You need some help badly.”

    Was I that bad?

    I tried to ignore her. I needed to work on my swing.

    “I can help,” she continued.

    “Really,” I said sarcastically.

    I was young and had been taught to respect my elders so I didn’t have a rude comeback–just the sarcasm, which she ignored.

    “You can use my Wimbledon racket,” she said.

    She got my attention. Her approach wasn’t optimum, but she got my attention by letting me know in a subtle way she had the “chutzpah” and the “chops” to work with a kid like me.

    I learned from her. She became my unofficial trainer and coach. She had been to Wimbledon and she was good. When I got to where I could win a set or two occasionally, we stopped–but only because I had school. I had no real designs to be a pro. I played in college, but only for fun.

    Play for keeps. A client that needs you and qualifies in his mind is the one you want.

    I think what I learned is that, if I hadn’t felt I needed the training no amount of “you need training to succeed” sentiment was going to make me ask for it–let alone pay for it. I knew I needed it and she had let me know her qualifications–take it or leave it. I took it.

    We need to make our qualifications known in such a way as to draw attention to them in the right way. Not egotistically, not arrogantly. I don’t care how good we are, if that’s the way we express our qualifications; that’s how we lose customers, that’s how we lose clients. We can’t get too “big” for them. Bully me into using your services. You might, if I think I need you badly enough, get me once, but not twice.

    Better to compliment the good, say you can help. Give potential clients the opportunity to see for themselves or hear from others how you good you are. The likelihood of a fit and long-term relationship is much enhanced.

    End of shorter story. By the way, I still have that Wimbledon racket.

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