Our new dog, Layla, loves toys. As a matter of fact, we had about 25 toys left over from our last dog that we never donated or threw out. Now, we’ve recycled them. When I say recycled, I mean recycled. Our last dog (Buddy Guy) would never chew or destroy anything. Our new dog (Layla), oh my goodness, she is crazy. She is a puppy on a mission to find those squishy toys, the ones that are surrounded by stuffing. Her mission is to figure out, where is the weakest link? Where is that one thread that I can pull that will open it up and get me to the promised land of all that stuffing that I can pull out and spit? After she destroys a toy, she moves on to the next one.

Pulling a Common Thread

Today, I want to talk about pulling a common thread that holds us all together with our customers. Now, I’m not saying that we’re toys, or that we quickly move on to the next one, but customers, like our dog, have a purpose. They are looking for success they are hoping to find that string. When they pull that string, they find the prize or get to the stuffing. Sometimes when they achieve that success, they will move on to the next toy.

What’s Your Customers String?

When it comes to your prospective customers, what is that string? One of the common things that I have with my customers is that I know I have been in their place. What I’m asking you to do is think about or interact with your customers from a place of empathy. What makes them want to work with you? Or what could make them not want to work with you?

Here’s the thing. Think about this as you’re starting to build a relationship with a prospect or a customer. We have all been disappointed by something we were sold. How did that affect you? People make promises and they hype things up that they really can’t deliver. All you’ve got to do is this one simple thing, and you’ll achieve success beyond your wildest dreams. We’ve all seen it because it’s all over the internet.

But in reality, it’s usually a bit more complex. We’ve all been taken advantage of. There have been people who’ve made these promises that if you do steps A, B, C, and D, you’re going to get E, right? If you follow my success formula, you will achieve the success you desire.

I have bought into the promise that if you can’t do it, I will do it for you. I followed their plan step-by-step and it didn’t work, and I got back to them and said, “Hey, I tried all those things. It’s not working.”

“Oh, well, you didn’t do them right, and I can’t do that for you. But what I can do is get one of my assistants to do it for you.” “Now, wait a minute. that’s not what was promised and I paid for. I paid for something specific, and I didn’t get it.” And so in the end, I bought something that didn’t work, and I lost all my money.

I’m sure that there are clients out there that have gone through those same experiences. They’ve paid for something. Then, they followed a process. Maybe they didn’t do it right. Maybe they did all the steps, but they were missing something and didn’t understand it. Then in the end, they were not satisfied and didn’t get what they expected.

These kinds of experiences tend to make us all a little bit skeptical. The thing that we have to do is find that empathy. Can you both find that common thread and be able to pull it together to reveal that prize of success?

What’s The Outcome?

What is the stuffing for those clients? What’s the prize they’re going to get in the end? One of the first questions I think you need to define, (and help your client define), is what does success actually mean? What does it look like?

Does it have a number, and what does that number mean to the end user? It could be a number of visits to a website? It could be a number of readers? Or, it could be a number in the form of sales or dollars? The bottom line is, that until you agree on what success is, there’s no easy way to obtain it. Imagine pulling that thread, and you open it up and you both see different things? You see the prize, and the client sees stuffing that is worthless to them? Very disappointing, right? You have to define the agreed-upon desired outcome.

The second thing that you have to do is help your clients be able to understand the process. Those milestones are the steps, the incremental parts (A, B, C, and D) that it’s going to take to get to success.

That’s the common thread that was missing when I hired that consultant, who said, if you do A, B, C, and D, and you will get E. They never told me that, “If you do A, this is the outcome. Then if you do A and B together, this is going to be the outcome. And then if you do A, B, and C together, this is the outcome. And then when you get A, B, C, and D, now you’ve got the complete package and you’re going to reach that defined success.” That was the thing that was missing. They never told me what to expect at each one of those steps. How can you define that for your client?

Finally, you have to make sure you are communicating. Is your process defined enough to say that, “After step A here’s the milestone.” After we’ve done A and B, here’s the milestone,” and so on. Are you able to communicate what the process and milestones look like?

Each step or combination of steps is part of the process and not complete, it’s not the end game. It’s not that defined success. You have to make sure you can communicate where you’re at, what’s coming next, and what they can expect. As you progress, are you laying out milestones for your clients? Doing so will make sure they understand it’s a process and will end up not disappointing them. You never want them to feel disappointed with progress creating a fear that the whole process will become a big waste of time and money?

What’s Next?

The last piece you have to consider is what’s the next toy. When Layla finishes her quest for the squeaker and stuffing, she’ll move on to the next one. That toy carcass either lays around and she still plays with it, or we throw it out. We definitely have to throw out all the stuffing before she eats it.

You have to ask yourself, what’s next once you’ve achieved that success? Do you have more to sell? Can you incrementally take them further, or is what you’re doing giving them enough repeat benefit that they’re willing to pay for it over and over and over again?

If not, are you okay with ending the relationship? If you’ve achieved exactly what you’ve said you’re going to do and they’ve hit that final milestone of success, are you okay with saying goodbye? Depending on what you sell or do, you may not be able to continue to sell the same thing over and over to the same customer. You have to define the end date. What does it look like when you have achieved that success? Do you know when and how to say we’re finished here? At least in my business, I know when that is, and I know it’s time to move on.

Finally, if you don’t achieve that success, if you don’t satisfy their needs, if you don’t live up to their expectations, are you willing to offer a refund? That’s something you have to think about. If they don’t achieve what you have both agreed that success looks like. If they’ve done everything you’ve asked them to do, and it still does not work, then maybe it wasn’t a good fit. It’s a good idea to be ready to offer a full refund or a partial refund because you never want to leave a relationship where they will tell the world that you took advantage of them. In the long run, your reputation is often more important.

Final Thoughts

In the case of our dog, we have an abundance, yet a finite amount of next toys. We have already bought a few new ones that we THINK will last a little longer and be harder to destroy. When it comes to customers, you have to always be on the lookout and nurturing your next success story. This is especially true if what you deliver has an expiration date and is not repeatable for the same customer, but can serve others with that common thread yet to be pulled!

But ultimately, they’re going to buy another toy and they’re going to find that thread and they’re going to pull it, and eventually, they’ll find what they define as success.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about pulling the common thread with your customers. Are these tips for making your business better? What worked and what did not live up to your expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?