Communicating what you can do for prospective clients is much more effective if you talk about what changes they want to see rather than what activities you will do for them.

For example, a guy buys a new refrigerator with an icemaker. The icemaker is new for him, so he has to hook up a water line. He figures he will drill a hole in the water line and connect the tube to the fridge. So he goes to the hardware store looking for the right size drill bit.

When he gets to the store and asks for what bit size would be right for the tube he is connecting, the clerk asks him what he is trying to accomplish. Once he understands the needs, he recommends a saddle valve – a device that combines making the hole and installing the valve. You clamp it on the pipe, turn the screw, and it bores into the pipe itself. No drill needed.

What the clerk recognized was that the customer did not need a bit, he needed a hole. And the right way to make a hole for this purpose was to use something different than the customer had asked for. In essence, he sold the client a hole. What he did for the customer was to enable him to supply the ice maker with a water source faster and easier than the customer had thought possible.

I was presenting to a group last week and we were discussing niche markets and what advisors had to offer them. What’s your niche? Small business owners, one participant replied. Good; what do you offer them? Retirement plans, buy-sell insurance, cash flow management, and services like that. The kind of thing I hear all the time. So, what’s wrong with a response like that? It doesn’t talk about the result the client is looking for, it talks about the tools and activities the advisor will utilize to give the client the result. It is equivalent to the hardware store employee saying that his job was to “introduce homeowners to saddle valves.”

This week, I was facilitating a client advisory board and we were reviewing the advisor’s web site. The site included all the services the advisor provides. Just like the vast majority of advisor sites (that I rail about in my programs.) One of the clients on the board is a marketing professional. He asked the question all advisors should ask themselves when contemplating their marketing: “What do you deliver from the clients’ point of view?”

A small business specialist might deliver ways of saving for retirement that W-2 employees cannot take advantage of and that can benefit their employees as well. Or may enable the business owner to attract and retain his best employees while avoiding regulatory trouble with the Department of Labor.

An advisor who works with obstetricians might show clients how to grow their accumulated savings while protecting them from the risks peculiar to the most litigated-against medical professionals.

Another who works with professional football players might coach clients on taking a very high income over a very short time and stretching it over the rest of their lives, unlike the vast majority of players who are in financial distress just a few years after leaving the sport.

A customer service rep at the hardware store might specialize in showing customers how to get their appliances to deliver all the cool functions built into them with minimum time and effort.

You will inspire more people by describing the future they most want to realize rather than talking about the things you will do to get them there.

What are some of the best descriptions you have heard like this (whether in the advisory business or not)?