I speak a lot about identifying your ideal target market; how to create that perfect profile that will enable you to attract and capture clients and customers you will love and who love you back. You know, these are the kind of clients and customers that you jump out of bed in the morning for, excited to work with. Well, this afternoon I was behind a hybrid Yukon (somehow that feels like an oxymoron to me) and I couldn’t stop looking at the bumper sticker they had, “Less Judgment, More Curiosity.” It reminded me all too well of how often we as business professionals and owners overlook our perfect client because we have inaccurately judged them. Let me share some examples here.
Don’t Be Fooled by the Accent
Years ago (way before Google) when I was teaching a DIY decorating class at a local university, I almost missed out on a great client because I made some stupid judgments. My students were typically busy professionals, homeowners, and some active moms, these were continuing education classes. They ranged from upper income to utter budget, I never knew unless I got to talk with them in class. This time, I got a phone call from one student asking about my services. She had a heavy foreign accent that I didn’t recognize and she wasn’t at all clear on what she wanted. As I listened to her, my judgment factors got the best of me and decided that I’d go out for a home review (never free, so that was a good sign) because she was my student, but I didn’t expect much. I was even thinking it would be a waste of time. Was I in for a surprise.
Ideal Clients Come in Many Packages
It turns out that not only was she highly educated and lived in a very nice home in a great neighborhood, but her husband was a Chief Oncologist at a local hospital. They had moved to Atlanta from Cuba and while his accent was less distinct, she hadn’t really lost hers and it could be tough to understand her at times. She ultimately hired me to do their great room, breakfast room, music room, dining room and eventually the master bedroom. She was singularly one of the most gracious clients ever and a delight to work with. Invoices were paid promptly and they welcomed my expertise and recommendations. She told me that often service people thought she was the maid when first speaking to her. I immediately felt guilty as this is what I had done. Wow, if I had treated her the way I judged her, I’d have missed out on a wonderful client, profitable projects, and a valuable learning experience.
The Woman in the Red Dress
Personally, I remember going to Neiman Marcus years ago (yes, I know it may be “needless mark up” to you but it can be fun to be frivolous every once in a while.) I was dressed in jeans, a casual shirt, no make-up and looking generally like I didn’t belong. I selected a gorgeous beaded gown, found a dressing room, since no sales person would give me the time of day, and I tried it on. It was half price (still ridiculous and what a gown, crimson chiffon with crimson irridescent beads, I’ll never forget it.) I was really frustrated by the lack of attention so I figured I’d see what would happen at check out. It was hilarious. I brought the dress to the register and they still barely acknowledged me until I pulled out my Neiman’s card, then they fell all over themselves. Well it was way to late for that. I had already decided I’d bring the dress back, cut up the card and cancel the account. I didn’t need to shop anyplace that judged my worth based on my appearance.
Are you doing this with your prospects? Are you applying inappropriate filters to those you meet both offline and online and maybe losing out on fabulous fits? Be careful, it can be shockingly easy to do, not to mention embarrassingly common. Like that bumper sticker said, let’s all be about “LESS JUDGMENT, MORE CURIOUS.”
Please share your stories on this, I know I’m not the only one!