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Knowing Your Ideal Customer Isn’t Enough. What Are Your Customer Absolutes?

It is important to know your ideal customer. One small problem: It isn’t enough.

Success Coach, Rich Litvin, co-authored the book, The Prosperous Coach, with Steve Chandler. In the book, Rich talks about the importance of having certain criteria you use to determine whether you will work with someone or not.

It’s a fantastic idea that I am happy I implemented. But instead of criteria, I call them Customer Absolutes.

These are the must-have-or-I-won’t-work-with-you qualities.

As Rich explains, it isn’t just a matter of knowing what these are. It is critical to tell people about them before they become your customer.

Let me explain with an example. As a Business Coach, one of my customer absolutes is: being open to change.

When meeting with a prospect, I tell them:

“To work with me you must be open to change. Change is hard. It will be uncomfortable at times. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to get what you want?”

If they aren’t, I won’t take them on as a customer. Sometimes they seem unsure and I may give them a few days to think about it. Regardless, I have to be convinced they are on-board with all customer absolutes before we would work together.

This sounds like turning away business, but it isn’t. It is eliminating wasted time and frustration.

Think of it like a doctor taking on a patient who doesn’t want to get well. Taking on a patient who isn’t going to follow your advice and doesn’t care about their health is a waste of everyone’s time.

If the doctor pushes the patient to do something the patient doesn’t want, what will the patient say about the doctor?

That the doctor isn’t any good. Instead, if the doctor gives in and lets the patient do whatever they want?  Same result: the patient will say the doctor isn’t any good.

In either case, the patient isn’t getting any better. Both people are frustrated and neither one benefits.

Using customer absolutes makes you a more effective business person. Keep in mind that customer absolutes will vary widely depending on what kind of business you are in.

For my business, I have 4 customer absolutes. I tell prospects what they are, why they are important and that they are required to work with me:

1. Open to change: Change is hard. It will uncomfortable at times. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to get what you want?
2. Take Ownernship: You must be willing to take ownership. I will support, encourage and help you. But it is you who have to make the changes. That requires ownership.

3. Willing to Laugh: Don’t misunderstand me: The changes you want to make are important and I will treat them that way. But change is hard. If you are unwilling to laugh at yourself or your situation, then making any changes will be infinitely harder. Laughter helps you shift your perspective and adapt. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the biggest breakthroughs my clients have experienced have involved laughter.
4. Enjoy Learning: I am most energized when I am around people that enjoy learning and are curious. When I am most energized I do my best coaching. I want to be at my best as often as possible.

Unless the prospect meets all 4 absolutes, we don’t work together.

It may sound odd to give someone an “out” before signing the proverbial deal. The reality is, I am doing both of us a favor. Setting clear expectations for how we will work together is great customer service and an important business practice.

People want and need that clarity.

The best working relationships start with clearly understood expectations.

How about you, what are your customer absolutes?

It is important to know your ideal customer. One small problem: It isn’t enough.

Success Coach, Rich Litvin, co-authored the book, The Prosperous Coach, with Steve Chandler. In the book, Rich talks about the importance of having certain criteria you use to determine whether you will work with someone or not.

It’s a fantastic idea that I am happy I implemented. But instead of criteria, I call them Customer Absolutes.

These are the must-have-or-I-won’t-work-with-you qualities.

As Rich explains, it isn’t just a matter of knowing what these are. It is critical to tell people about them before they become your customer.

Let me explain with an example. As a Business Coach, one of my customer absolutes is: being open to change.

When meeting with a prospect, I tell them:

“To work with me you must be open to change. Change is hard. It will be uncomfortable at times. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to get what you want?”

If they aren’t, I won’t take them on as a customer. Sometimes they seem unsure and I may give them a few days to think about it. Regardless, I have to be convinced they are on-board with all customer absolutes before we would work together.

This sounds like turning away business, but it isn’t. It is eliminating wasted time and frustration.

Think of it like a doctor taking on a patient who doesn’t want to get well. Taking on a patient who isn’t going to follow your advice and doesn’t care about their health is a waste of everyone’s time.

If the doctor pushes the patient to do something the patient doesn’t want, what will the patient say about the doctor?

That the doctor isn’t any good. Instead, if the doctor gives in and lets the patient do whatever they want?  Same result: the patient will say the doctor isn’t any good.

In either case, the patient isn’t getting any better. Both peope are frustrated and neither one benefits.

Using customer absolutes makes you a more effective business person. Keep in mind that customer absolutes will vary widely depending on what kind of business you are in.

For my business, I have 4 customer absolutes. I tell prospects what they are, why they are important and that they are required to work with me:

1. Open to change: Change is hard. It will uncomfortable at times. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to get what you want?
2. Take Ownernship: You must be willing to take ownership. I will support, encourage and help you. But it is you who have to make the changes. That requires ownership.

3. Willing to Laugh: Don’t misunderstand me: The changes you want to make are important and I will treat them that way. But change is hard. If you are unwilling to laugh at yourself or your situation, then making any changes will be infinitely harder. Laughter helps you shift your perspective and adapt. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the biggest breakthroughs my clients have experienced have involved laughter.
4. Enjoy Learning: I am most energized when I am around people that enjoy learning and are curious. When I am most energized I do my best coaching. I want to be at my best as often as possible.

Unless the prospect meets all 4 absolutes, we don’t work together.

It may sound odd to give someone an “out” before signing the proverbial deal. The reality is, I am doing both of us a favor. Setting clear expectations for how we will work together is great customer service and an important business practice.

People want and need that clarity.

The best working relationships start with clearly understood expectations.

How about you, what are your customer absolutes?

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