The NFL combine is going on in Indianapolis as I write this. It’s where the best college players gather with team representatives to show off their skills. They sprint, lift, run obstacle courses, and are interviewed by coaches. One veteran reporter wrote, when asked how important this event is for coaches to evaluate talent levels:
The coaches know who can play. Now they want to know who can be coached.
Isn’t that business (and life) in general? When we hire someone we want someone who can be coached. We don’t want a know-it-all, we want someone who will be a team player.
It’s just as important when seeking new clients. In the class I teach at the SBA on growing a consulting business one of my favorite lines is, “The only thing worse than no client is a bad client.” When we solve a customer’s problem we want them to participate, heed our advice, and implement it. Being stubborn doesn’t work.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling highly technical components for an end product, providing advice, or repairing critical equipment. It’s a lot easier when your client is “coachable.”
“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing.” Clive James