I was out to dinner last week catching up with a couple of girlfriends. My big news was all about hosting our first ever Monthly Marketing Bundle Professional Retreat here in Sonoma in mid-June.
Since we were all going to be together live and in person, the MMB members requested a live demonstration of my first appointment with a client. I believe in having Clients for Life. That first appointment is the most crucial step forward in building a relationship full of trust.
Style Squared is my signature training for image professionals wanting to learn a step-by-step way to work with clients and build their business. Many of the MMBers have taken that course so they were excited to see me in action and get a review of the distinct steps in that appointment.
I did my demonstration in Uber Optics, a great eyewear boutique that I bring my clients to. Nancy Billings Revis, the owner of Uber Optics welcomed our large group into her store on a Sunday and was a wonderful hostess.
Nancy has known me for a long time and meets my clients when I bring them in for new eyewear. But she’s never seen how I start working with a client. It was so moving to me to read her post later on Facebook: “Brenda Kinsel, personal stylist/consultant is demonstrating how she works with clients. She is such an amazing positive person and I am so lucky to call her a friend. Watching her work is like being in a wonderful therapy session. Brenda knows how to pull out your individual style and confidence. She knows how to blend fashion with having a feeling like you are meeting with a life coach.”
It’s often hard to put into words what happens in that appointment as it’s so layered. I loved getting her feedback.
My Uncle Chet shared a great mantra with me
For years and years I would go with my parents in October to the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota. It was founded by my uncle, Chester Reiten. It’s the largest Scandinavian-American festival in the world and goes from Tuesday night through Saturday night. (Uncle Chet has since passed away and now my cousin Dave has taken over.)
Mom and Dad and I would go over to Uncle Chet’s house at night and rehash the days activities. With all the details of that festival swirling all around him, he’d always want time one-on-one time with me. He’d say, “Brenda, come sit here. Tell me about your business.”
My uncle had a very successful career in broadcasting-both radio and TV-and was awfully proud of the national and international media attention I’d gotten through the publication of my books. I loved any opportunity to talk to him.
There’s one conversation I’ll never forget. “Brenda,” he said, “Do you want to know what the key is to a successful business?” “Yes,” I said, eagerly. “It’s two things,” he said. “Empathy and energy.”
It was his opinion that you need to listen to your customers, deeply. They need to know you have empathy for them. Once you “get” them (and they know it), you need to demonstrate that you have the energy to help them with their problems or concerns.
Simple: Empathy and Energy
What he said resonated so completely for me. As successful consultants, we need to have an “understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives.” (a definition of empathy from The American Heritage Dictionary). How do we get that understanding? We listen twice as much (or more) than we talk so we can really hear what our clients want and need from us.
And how do we express energy? How does our client know we have the energy, drive and desire to help her out of her ruts? It can be as simple as saying, “I can help you with that!”
Erin and I worked with a client this past week and she was reminiscing about that first style appointment with me. “It was so not what I expected,” she said. “It was much deeper than I thought it would be. I felt so understood by you, but do you know what the best part was?”
I said, “No, what was the best part?”
She threw her hands out in front of her, shook them vigorously in the air and said, “You let me know that you’d help me! You were so enthusiastic about helping me!”
Wow, another piece of great feedback and confirmation that empathy and energy is key.
Is “empathy and energy” a strong component of your consulting business? I bet it is. Do share!