What Clients Love

What Clients Love

A Field Guide to Growing Your Business

Harry Beckwith

Summary in 100 words or less

To find out what your clients love, do not listen; watch what they do. Be different, that’s how you stand out. Clarity in communication moves people from confusion to confidence. To communicate well, spend the time to understand and learn about your prospects. Then, use stories to reach people's hearts and show up regularly to breed familiarity. Everything you associate shapes your brand and thus, your customers’ experience. Clients love passionate people and businesses because they know that passion produces great works. Always tell the truth—it’s the only path to building trust and loyalty.


My Highlights

Next time you ponder your strategy, ask: “If I ran a competing firm, how would I beat ours? Which weakness would I attack? What would I do to distinguish this new firm and seize business from our current one?” Then, eliminate that weakness and build that distinguishing strength—before someone else starts doing it.

The value of planning is not in the plan but in the planning. Planning teaches you and your colleagues about your business, market, customers, and each other.

As you implement your plan, your prospects and clients will react, and their reactions will teach you more. Among other things, their reactions, carefully observed, will reveal what clients want—and love.

No matter how hard we stare, we cannot see ahead. Your planning should not rest on suppositions about the future because no supposition—other than death and taxes—is safe. Rest your assumptions instead on the one prediction that has never missed: People will pay for what they love. Plan to build what they love, and let the rest of the future take care of itself—as it always has.

Life happens at the level of events, not words.—Psychologist Alfred Adler

Trust only movement. Do not listen; watch.

Beware of expert advice. Too often, the expert is applying previous experiences to a current one. But any time we apply the lessons of one experience to another, we assume those two experiences are identical.

We are wrong more often than we know—especially when we are sure we are right. Question yourself constantly. Even when you are certain you often are wrong.

Common sense can protect you from colossal mistakes. What it cannot do is inspire enormous breakthroughs. Common sense goes only so far. Breakthroughs require imagination.

Moving organizations tend to keep moving. Ones that rest—on their laurels or otherwise—actually atrophy, grow weaker, and die young.

The company that waits for guarantees is doomed. Nothing in business is guaranteed. Past successes are simply past successes, not guarantees of future ones. Do something.

Move your thinking, time, and money into one or two possible 100x strategies. Quickly test different strategies and tactics, then spend every penny you can find—and borrow—on the 100x strategy.

Call your mission what it is: your purpose. It is your reason for coming to work, your passion, your deeper reasons that go beyond bringing in and divvying up the money. A powerful statement of purpose attracts and comforts clients, inspires employees, and produces measurable results.

If everyone feels comfortable with your idea, it isn’t an idea. It’s an imitation. Push beyond that toward the edge, toward something like a fingerprint—something so distinctive it resonates powerfully with a few.

The Internet is not your business. It merely supports the fundamentals of business—basics that the Internet does not change.

Nobel-winning economist Herbert Simon has said, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. The more there is to hear, the less we listen. We have more information but more confusion, more date but less confidence. We are drowning in information and screaming for knowledge.

You are surrounded by placebo effects, constantly working their alchemy. We have experiences we expect to have, based on our perceptions that preceded those experiences. Our perceptions create our expectations—and those expectations so influence our experience that we can say this: Our expectation changes our experience.

Only in writing do you discover what you know. —Anne Beattie

Writing teaches you that you never write just what you know. You write what you learn as you’re writing. Ideas come to you and trigger other ideas. Thoughts crystallize and connect with others, and the combination of the element produces a compound: an insight. You learn.

Writing is thinking, and rewriting is rethinking.

The clearer the communication, the more expert the communicator. Clarity is expertise. Clarity cuts through the fog and conveys your value to a prospect. Clarity assures the prospect that you will not cloud the issue or confuse the sale. Clarity moves the prospect from confusion, which aggravates every person’s fear of invisible, to confidence. Clarity breaks down mistrust. Clarity wins.

We always weaken whatever we exaggerate.

The more you say, the thicker your forest of words. No reader will get lost among three trees. Among three thousand, almost all will.

We feel uncertain—including about others. But because we feel we can trust fewer people, we value those we trust even more; they are more rate and therefore more valuable. We love the assurance they provide, that there is someone we can rely on in this chaotic world.

You cannot hurry a relationship. And because selling today involves selling a relationship, you cannot hurry the sale of service. You just have to wait.

Stories help humans understand ideas. Stories help people get it; they hear, and they see. Stories also reach places that no description can: people’s hearts.

In selling your services, get aligned with The Force—the person with the influence, power, and inclination to act. Before you approach a prospective client, determine who has the influence, can get a decision made, and can get it made quickly enough to make your prospecting profitable and satisfying.

We all sell intangibles—often in the form of “solution”—and relationship.

Familiarity breeds attraction. The more you hear something, the more you like it. The more you see someone, the more you tend to like them. If prospects have heard of you, you must be good. If they have heard a lot about you, you must be great—even if you aren’t.

Whatever you do, recognize that part of a brand’s power comes from its intense concentration in a narrow but rich market. Lose that concentration by trying to expand your brand and you might lose your brand—and all its rewards.

Your environment—your building, setting, the entire surroundings of your client’s experiences—does not merely package you. It changes, and becomes a critical part of, each client’s experience.

If you position yourself in one of the power positions—reliability, or innovation, for example—you can compete with other firms known for those traits. If you try to compete on price, only the lowest firm ultimately wins.

Even introverts need people. Adults invented work so they could keep playing together. —Silver Rose

Whenever you try to satisfy a client, this feeling dominates the transaction: that person’s need to feel important.

Loyalty doesn’t come from marketing. It comes from personal sacrifices. As words have become cheaper, time—finite, slipping away, and seemingly shrinking—has become more valuable. Gestures that take time tell the other person “you really matter”.

Bad clients don’t produce minimal returns; they produce loses. If a prospect is most interested in cost, you will never be happy and always be vulnerable.

Never try to impress. The effort always shows, and it diminishes you.

Praise but never flatter. Praise makes people feel good; flattery makes them feel manipulated.

One does what one is; one becomes what one does. —Robert Musil

Your words will become your behavior. Your behavior will become your habit. And your new habit will reward you.

In business as in life, people who reveal themselves—who admit mistakes or weaknesses, for example—communicate that they trust they person to whom they reveal themselves. They gain that person’s appreciation in return. Revelations build the foundation of lasting relationship: trust.

Belief and passion grow businesses. Clients love passionate people and passionate businesses because passion stimulates them—they feel it and feel better, too—and because they know that passion produces great works.

Triumph, then, belongs to those who believe. Belief steels us with the courage to take risks that the faithless avoid, and to reap the rewards that follow—to realize that our live grow in proportion to our courage.

More book notes

The Virgin Way
The Brain Audit
Your Move

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