My good friend, Zach Schabot has a saying that he uses with almost everyone he speaks with on any given day... "how can I help?" No, he isn't a barista at Starbucks and he doesn't wait tables - in fact, he works for Zillow. But this is something Zach has been saying for years, long before his time at Zillow. This sort of saying is exactly why Zach has always been someone I have trusted and looked up to.
So, maybe you're asking yourself...why is such a simple question a business revelation? Well, because far too often, we don't ask the question. We assume that the mere fact that someone is working with us means they are satisfied or even happy. But as Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing and countless other books talks about - just because a client is current, doesn't mean they're happy. To ensure that you're delivering happy experiences - Stratten suggests a practice called the "StartStopContinue," where you ask your clients three questions:
What should I start doing?
What should I stop doing?
What should I continue doing?
I firmly believe that sometimes we avoid asking questions when we're afraid of the answer or not committed to putting in the work to make the change the answer may call for. You see, asking isn't just about personal gain, it is about understanding the context of how you are interacting with others. Are you consistently engaging with your clients the same way that you are engaging with your prospects? Are you valuing their business the same way that you value a prospect? Do you even know if your current customers are in fact happy or are they just so far along that it is more of a pain to switch agents than to just continue their mediocre experience? If you have to wonder, you don't know, which means you need to ask.
Let's say that your focus is referrals. When 80% of people seek a recommendation when making any kind of buying decision and over roughly 67% of people take that recommendation - referrals are a good focus as well. The key to referrals is that you have to ask your clients to refer you! Happy customers may very well be happy, but consumers don't frequently talk about their experience (both positively and negatively) unless they are prompted to. Don't be shy, tell your clients how they can help you grow your business. They often want to help, but they don't know how to best do so. People inherently want to help those that have invested in them in a meaningful way. They want to help, they just need you to tell them how to go about doing so.
Now, back to Zach and his helpful saying. Well, the phrase "how can I help?" isn't anything groundbreaking, but the practice is. What makes this special is Zach never leads with this statement - instead, he invests his time and energy in you to understand what it is you're doing, what you want to achieve, and how he might be able to help. Then...he asks. Anyone who knows Zach is probably smiling as they read this because they know that he is being 100% genuine with an offer to help in any way that he can with just about whatever it is that he is learning about at that moment. It is one of those charming qualities of his. But this goes beyond charm, this is just plain good business. You see, asking has gotten a bad rep. It has been perceived as pushy and self-serving, but this ask is neither of those things. Why? Because this ask is truly selfless. It is asking to invest in you even more than he already is. That, my friends...that is special. That, my friends...that's Zach.