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The cost of inaction

The cost of inaction

11-03-2016 | Insight

In today's information-drenched world, with too many options it's often easier to put things off and not make a choice. In doing so, clients often handicap themselves by not making any progress at all.

  • Stewart Bell
    Stewart
    Bell
    Business Coach at Audere Coaching & Consulting
Disclaimer

Stewart Bell is Founder & Business Coach at Audere Coaching & Consulting. The opinions and statements are deemed to be those of the author, and do not represent the view of Robeco.

Usually it's a story about a client; a real story that illustrates perfectly one of the concepts you try to work with businesses on.

One of my favorites comes from 2013.

At that time, I was working with a business to roll out a new pricing model. Specifically, we were trying to price out various aspects of what they'd previously done for free.

The story had actually started about 12 months earlier. A client had been offered an opportunity to outsource the management of his direct equities portfolio.

"No, no, no," said the client, "That's far too expensive for someone else to manage it. I'll do it myself."

So off he went, taking up only a portion of the advice on offer.

Twelve months passed until the next review took place, smack bang in the middle of my engagement with the business. Now, given part of our engagement involved working on the practical aspects of transitioning clients across to the new, profitable service offers, we ended up dissecting the conversation.

It went a bit like this.

The adviser, remembering 12 months earlier, asked the client whether he'd taken advantage of a significant BHP buyback opportunity.

"What BHP buyback?", the client responded.

Sure enough, the client had missed out on a golden opportunity because he chose the "cheaper" route of doing it himself.

The lesson is this: Often when advice businesses market what they do, explaining their offer and all that is involved in the value game, many are future focused.

They focus on the likely difference between the client continuing their current path vs. a hypothetical future if they take advice.

It's a good approach, no argument, but it's not the only comparison. In fact, often, it's not even the best comparison.

Sometimes, the best comparison comes in asking clients about the cost of not acting.

In today's information-drenched world, it's often easier to put things off. When there are too many options, the easiest option is not make a choice. In doing so, clients often handicap themselves by not making any progress at all.

This is your biggest opportunity to be a rock star adviser, and ask the question, "So if you're not going to do this now, when are you going to do it?"

An even better question, "So, knowing what we just spoke about, and knowing you have a decision to make, talk to me about where you'd be now if we started this work 5 years ago..."

As a business coach, a lot of the value I bring to a business is making them do things they would otherwise put off.

In challenging them to invest time, work on sharpening their focus, improve their sales process, working on who they bring on board, putting in place systems, they are all things which, frankly, are easy to say, "I'll do it another time."

Procrastination is one of the most significant killers of value, ending in a time, years in the future, looking back with regret, thinking, "If only I knew then what I know now, I would have acted differently."

Don't just focus on the benefit you'll bring through working together. Focus also on what your clients are giving up by not starting today, and have already given up not starting sooner.

You may just find this is the ultimate way of showing the value of your advice.

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Disclaimer

Stewart Bell is Founder & Business Coach at Audere Coaching & Consulting. The opinions and statements are deemed to be those of the author, and do not represent the view of Robeco.

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