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Understanding Your Prospective Client's Headset

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

You have a service to sell. You have a contribution to make. You have a problem to solve and yet, for some reason, not all of your prospective clients are interested in what you have to offer. Often the problem is that you are not customizing your marketing and sales approach to your client's "headset."

There are four possible headsets you will encounter amongst prospective clients. Your ability to understand them and react to them appropriately will, to a great degree, determine your success.
  1. Problem Headset. This is a prospective client who perceives they have a problem. Something isn't working, something's broken, something's costing too much or something is a general pain in the you know what. This prospect is motivated by avoiding pain.

  2. Opportunity Headset. This prospective client doesn't perceive a problem. It's not that things are broken but that they could simply work better. They could make more profit, increase sales, enhance productivity. This prospect is motivated by improving the status quo.

  3. Apathy Headset. This prospective client is at neutral. Things aren't bad, things are OK. Sure they could go better but why bother with incremental improvements? As far as problems - they aren't so big as to cause any real worry. This prospect isn't motivated by much of anything.

  4. Entrenched Headset. This prospective client does not perceive a problem or opportunity to improve because things are already as good as they could possibly be. Sales are up. Productivity is soaring. Everyone's happy so, "please leave me alone." This prospect is motivated to keep you from gumming up the works!
Before you jump in with a canned solution to a company's problems you need to first recognize the headset they are wearing.

If they have a Problem Headset you need to demonstrate was to mitigate problems, turn things around and fix what's broken.

For an Opportunity Headset you must zero in on what can be optimized, fine-tuned and improved. These can be great people to work with.

The Apathy Headset is hard to sell to unless you can help shift them from apathy to problem or opportunity. You can do this by learning more about their situation and then presenting your findings.

The Entrenched Headset is the hardest of all to sell. These are the prospects you should sell to in the future. Keep them on your mailing list and stay in touch. You never know when they'll put on a Problem or Opportunity headset.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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