The Five Ways To Know If Your Client Is Really Interested

By Mo Bunnell

What's On My Mind

Or, How To Avoid Give To Gives!

You know our mantra...Give To Get!

​Give first.

Teach everything you can in the time you have.

Then suggest a next step, a Cliffhanger.

​This does so much!


​But what about when you're giving...and giving...and giving...?

​They keep meeting, but you're unsure if it's going somewhere commercially.

​That's the Give To Give.

​A quick Yes is great.

​And a quick No is great too.

​The worst?

The Slow No.

​A bunch of meetings, countless investments, and a No at the end.

​(Sidebar: This is different than meeting with someone to help them personally, someone on your Protemoi List. Do those often! Here, I'm talking about ongoing discussions involving potential commercial work.)

​Here's a simple way to avoid The Slow No, the Give To Give.

Ask the client to escalate their commitment as you escalate yours.

​Here are the five best ways.

  1. The client pays for the next step. 

    This is the obvious and best one.

    Get here as soon as you can–you can only really help the people that pay you.

    Example: "What most of our clients do next is hire us for ___. What do you think?"
  2. The client sends you additional data for analysis. 

    This is also great, mainly because most data needs to be extracted, scrubbed, and reviewed. Effort!

    This one works great when you need to do a deeper analysis to quantify the impact of your work.

    Example: "Based on our conversation, I'd suggest you sending us a ___ dataset so we can model the impact we would have together. If it shows ___ we'll know there's not enough here to focus on this. But if it shows ___ we'll all know the ROI is immense and that we should ___. What's your take?"
  3. The client invests time before the next step. 

    This can be reviewing something in detail (like project plans), them traveling to meet more of your team–anything that takes a time.

    This one works great if there is a lot to figure out before getting started.

    Example: "Given how important and connective this initiative is, I'd suggest your team reviewing the draft plan we'll send over. The draft will probably be about 70% right, and we will need your team's input to make it perfect. Then we can get back together to finalize the perfect approach before getting started. How's that sound?"
  4. The client introduces you to others at their organization.

    This could be a meeting with a superior or other key internal stakeholders.

    This one works great if other people need to buy into hiring you.

    Example: "Given what you said about the CFO's interest in this, I'd suggest we both get together with her, going through the approach we just developed, with a special emphasis on the ROI model. Then we could get her input on how this fits in with other priorities and get started if she agrees that this is a big unlock for the organization. Thoughts?"
  5. The client co-creates the solution. 

    This is my 2nd favorite and a great next step to getting hired.

    This one works great as a working session to map out the work.

    Example: "Sure, we can definitely send a proposal to you. We've found starting with a 90-minute working session works best because it'll save us all a ton of time. We'll guide you through every important decision we need to make in designing our approach; then, we'll quickly turn that into a proposal you can review. We've found this is much faster than us making a lot of assumptions in the first version then having to go back and forth forever. Our clients love this "one and done" approach."

    (More on our Building Everything Together model HERE.)

Here's the great news.​

If the client doesn't want to engage in these small steps...great!

They weren't interested in buying anyway. Maybe they were just being nice. Or maybe they just like talking about this topic. If they don't take a small step, they aren't going to take the big step of hiring you.

​And if they say yes? Great!

​You're rolling downhill like, a Snowball.

​(You knew it was coming.)

​Over to you.

​Do you have an opportunity where someone keeps meeting, but you're unsure if they're interested in hiring you?

​If they're an important relationship for you (Protemoi List!), that's totally fine. Keep meeting. Keep investing in their success without expectation of anything in return. Fun!

​But if this conversation is more commercial, suggest a next step where they need to escalate their commitment to get more value from you.

​One of the five ways above will work great. You can even combine a couple for bigger proposals.

​No matter what happens, you'll make progress.

You might remember our article a few weeks ago about the Anti-Midas Touch.

​Great rainmakers don't turn everything they touch into gold.

They only touch gold things.