If my wife asks how I enjoyed dinner and I say it was okay, she will be offended. Not as much as if I threw it on the floor and stomped out, but still. Okay is not a compliment.
In a similar way, I have noticed the most successful professionals try not to deal with everyone. They know who their ideal fit is and they seek clients that match that. In my experience, every client relationship that turned out badly was one I knew would do so from the start.
You cannot make a salmon dish well enough to please someone who dislikes fish of any kind.
We all think we can fix other people and we cannot.
If you had client reviews from each client, you would find two possible distributions of their pleasure dealing with you.
On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is great and 1 is terrible, you might expect a normal distribution (bell curve) maybe skewed a little to the 5 side. If you get that, you are offering mediocre service. You should do something about that.
On the same 1 to 5 scale you could have a U-shaped distribution. A lot of 5s and some 1s. You either please the clients or you do not. No one is indifferent to what you do. This shape indicates a superior provider who has trouble selecting. This professional takes on clients better left alone.
The ideal distribution is a single vertical line on 5. That one is about what you do and how you do it, but it is also about who you do it for.
You cannot please everyone and do a great job at the same time. Some people can’t relate to what you do or the way you do it. You are better off trying to recruit people who match your skills than expand your skills or methods to please more people.
A 3 answer is indifferent. Indifferent is just a polite way to be angry. It is more insidious though, because it doesn’t look angry. No one changes because of a 3. In psych testing on a 1 to 5 scale, 3 is ignored. It is meaningless.
The most satisfying word is “No!” Learn to refuse to accept some clients. As I said earlier, you know when you should do that. If you have a concern, say “No thanks.” It will save you much time and trouble later and allow you to devote yourself to the clients who will value and promote your service to others you can work with effectively. Recall the Pareto Principle that 80% of the results come from 20% of the input. You could begin to cull some of the 80% who add 20% of the outcome.
Specialize in a certain kind of client instead of certain professional skills.
Read material from Seth Godin on Permission based marketing and the creation of tribes.
Make life easier not harder.
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More on the subject in my mailbox today. https://moseleywilliams.com/blogcast-51-creating-raving-fans/