Recently, I realized that married couples and partners, made up over half of my clients. This has been part of my client makeup for years and I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you about working with couples.
First, don’t overlook the fact that you immediately have two clients in one client relationship. If you love people like I do, couples can be amazing to work with. When you are impacting a family business, it means something. It’s not just supporting a CEO in an ivory tower somewhere, but you are truly helping people achieve personal goals. This seems very authentic and organic, and I love working in that environment. Plus couples celebrate wins together and I get to see this in real time.
Although working with couples can be challenging in some ways, loyalty is an additional benefit. If what you are selling can benefit ‘the family’ you can build relationships that last a lifetime. Most couples tend to bring stability to these working relationships and I’ve been a part of that playing out in positive ways.
Here are my tips on working with couples:
- Double Your Coverage: Don’t assume couples talk to each other about work or have ‘informed the other’ about decisions or direction after they have decided something with you. Consider this a President/Vice President environment and make sure you are communicating with both parties if that’s how you started your relationship. Take advantage of technology and ask the preferred method of dual communication. For the pictures in this blog, I communicated with one couple via email, another through Facebook Messenger and another through texting.
- Dump Your Gender Bias: A marriage or couple partner, is a complex relationship environment with it’s own set of rules that you may never fully understand. Don’t make assumptions on who is in charge. Some couples make joint decisions, some default to one person, some default scenarios are based on circumstances. Some default scenarios are based on timing, or mood. Some ‘work’ scenarios for couples are vastly different than how they run their household. Don’t let how YOU run YOUR household impact how you talk to or treat other couples.
- Prepare for the CAM: CAM = Conversation After the Meeting. If you are going to work with couples you better be on your A-Game and explain everything well, prepare agendas, follow up, ask questions and make sure nothing is left to interpretation. The ‘CAM’ needs to be a positive experience about you, or your involvement will be SHORT. Realize that after a couple leaves a meeting with you, they may review that meeting on the drive home. If you are meeting at their office, than your meeting review may be part of a dinner discussion. Make it a good one!!Tips for Preparing for the CAM:
a) Look both parties in the eye when you are talking to them and don’t focus on just one person in your meetings/discussions.
b) Ask for mini-confirmations during your overview/presentation. “Is this making sense?” “What questions didn’t I ask yet?” “How will this impact both of you?” Then shut up and listen. Do this frequently as you move through your presentations/discussions.
c) Pay attention to BOTH parties. Recently I went to rent a car with my wife – who was traveling, and the person behind the counter never addressed her the entire time. They didn’t even ask who the car was for. We ended up leaving and renting a car from another place.
d) Be LIKEABLE!! This isn’t that hard. Smile, be friendly. Listen. Buy coffee. Ask about family. Listen. Hold a door open. Set good expectations. Be on time. Ask questions. Listen. Throw their tray away. Refill a drink. Bring extra pens. LISTEN.
- To Field & Message Intro – Pro Tips: Change up your “To Field” on your emails. Don’t always put the same name first. It’s subtle but sends a message. I also address my subjects with “hey y’all” or “hey folks” “hey there”. When it’s more formal, I start the emails with both names – and switch them around every other email or so.
Do you work with couples? What has your experience been? Let me know if these tips are helpful to you and if I missed anything.
Great advice, Jason. I love the CAM technique!