- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

ARGH! Are You An Accidental Taker?

9th March, 2017

ARGH! Are You An Accidental Taker?

Opening up my email box this morning felt like being ravaged by a plague of locusts (ok, so I’m prone to embellish, but work with me here…). My messages included requests to:

‘Come to our event’ (where we can shamelessly up-sell to you). ‘Fill in this 300 page questionnaire’ (and tell us how to do our jobs better). “Please refer us to your network’ (just for the sheer pleasure of it).

Blimey. It got me thinking about how much we ask of our clients. All the time. Coffees. Case studies. Referrals. Testimonials. Take, take, take.

And the more helpful they are, the more we ask. And then we wonder why clients stop answering our calls or responding to our emails.

Don’t be an Accidental Taker.

It’s basic stuff, but so many business owners forget that relationships are meant to be reciprocal. You have to give as much as you take. More, in fact.

3 Failsafe Ways To Stop Accidental Taking…

1. Be Generous BEFORE You Ask A Favour

Of course it’s good manners and helps to build relationships (and my mum would be proud of you).

But it also makes business sense to be generous. We’re hardwired as humans to reciprocate a favour (see Robert Cialdini’s brilliant book ‘Influence’ for more on this).

That’s why so many businesses give away samples or tasters of their services for free – we’re more likely to buy from someone we think we’re indebted to. It’s a no brainer.

2) Make It PERSONAL (In A Good Way)

Clients can smell a ‘cut and paste’ email from a hundred yards. When you’re writing use an informal, conversational tone that really makes a connection.

Reference your client specifically – what they’ve done recently, a conversation you’ve had, or something they asked about.

And please please please (I beg you) don’t start with ‘I hope you’re well’. Or worse, the spectacularly British “I hope this email finds you well”. Or the truly painful ‘I hope your well.’

Choose an opener that’s friendly, warm and personal instead: “How was skiing? Did you have good snow?”; “Did you make it through the train chaos this morning?!”; “I was reading this article today and immediately thought of you.”

3) It REALLY IS The Thought That Counts

You don’t need to always make grand gestures to make your clients stick with you.

BUT you do need to keep offering something different and thoughtful if you want to stay top of mind (and ask for favours in return).

It could be as simple as…

  • Sharing an article or piece of research your client might find useful
  • A cup of their favourite coffee when you turn up for your meeting
  • A book to help them in their job
  • A well thought out report with insights they can’t get elsewhere
  • Something to make them smile
  • Free advice (just because)
  • An introduction to someone in your network
  • A handy video to share with their team

You don’t need to go overboard or over budget – in fact the best ideas are often free.

So give it some thought. Be creative. Give back.

If you’re generous in spirit your clients will be too (and they might start answering your calls again!).


University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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