Today my daughter’s class went on a field trip to the pumpkin farm. It was an absolutely beautiful day filled with blue skies and amazing fall foliage.
Once the field trip was over and I was back in my office, I reflected on our experiences at the pumpkin farm. Then it hit me that when the kids were picking their pumpkins, their interactions with the parents were a lot like our interactions with our clients. (stay with me on this one!)
When it came time to go out into the field and pick their pumpkins, I noticed something interesting. We had a lot of parents chaperoning this trip and there seemed to be three types of parents:
- The Choosers – These parents took their child out into the field and said “Here, pick this one”, and the child would do as they were told. I’m not sure whether the child actually wanted that pumpkin, but the parent had pointed it out, so that must be the right one.
- The Guiders – These parents took their child out into the field and asked the child what they were looking for. “Do you want an orange pumpkin?” “Do you want a big stem or a skinny stem?” They then took that information and helped guide their child to the appropriate pumpkin.
- The Watchers – These parents took their child out into the field and stayed back, watching their child pick out the “perfect” pumpkin – the one they loved over all the others. Their child knew exactly what they were looking for in a pumpkin and the parents just had to wait and see.
So what does all of this have to do with our customers and clients? Some business owners and entrepreneurs are like “The Choosers”. They tell their clients what they need, how much they need, and what they should do. They don’t wait to listen to their clients but rather tell them what to do.
Our clients, however, do not want to be “railroaded” into a decision. They need us to listen and to learn about their needs. Some of them need a “Watcher”… someone who will take the time to listen and follow through on their needs and wants. These clients know exactly what they want and they need to know whether or not you can deliver.
Many clients need “The Guider”. In general, they have an idea where they want to end up (having the perfect pumpkin), but they don’t really know how to get there. They need guidance and direction, and someone who is willing to listen to their needs and wants.
So, if you were in the pumpkin field, what type of parent (business person) would you be? Take the time to listen to your customers. Guide them if necessary, but don’t make all the decisions for them before you even know what they want.
Happy Pumpkin Picking!