Every person in a consultancy — and not just a PR agency … could be any type of professional services firm — has experienced a client who adds what we’ll call “extra obstacles” to achieving success.
It’s not personal (usually).
Sometimes, it’s simply a byproduct of the company’s culture.
Sometimes, the client’s boss finds comfort in the “pain” of others.
I’m reminded of a client whose management required report after report to the point that the reporting cost exceeded the doing-PR cost. Even after showing them a pie chart of the budget categorized by activities that generate visible results vs. activities that didn’t, nothing changed.
They wanted those bloody reports.
After going through this experience, I had a revelation. I thought winning over the client was totally an intellectual exercise. Show them the data, they would see my point and adjustments would be made accordingly.
I forgot that there’s always an emotional component to winning over a client to the agency’s point of view, especially if the client already believes in a counter position.
Taking this a step further, I’ve learned that strength of conviction can often be the most persuasive way to bring a client over to your way of thinking.
One of the best illustrations of “strength of conviction” comes from the movie “Jerry Maguire.”
I think the soliloquy “Help me help you” is right up there with Hamlet’s “To be or not to be.” I know what I’m about to say is sacrilege, but Tom Cruise’s performance for 60 seconds matches Laurence Olivier in “Hamlet” for my money.
Most folks who have spent time in a consultancy have experienced moments when they wanted go “Jerry Maguire” and say to the client, “Help me help you.”
When you can combine the right words — the right storytelling — with strength of conviction, you end up with a proposition that’s tough to refuse.
Plus, I love the setup that leads into infamous “Help me help you” line.
“I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be me out here for you. It is an up-and-gone, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about. OK?”
I’m not big on adjectives, but “pride-swallowing siege” works.
How can you not get on board with Jerry?
Cuba Gooding Jr. did.