Dealing with Resistance
It hurts to get rejected. Especially after spending those countless hours thinking of the perfect strategy to woo and propose to that special someone (who in this case, is referring to a client.)
As consultants, we become accustomed to bearing witness to the multiple variations of “no.” While we are pitching our idea, one client impulsively sits back and crosses her arms as soon as she hears the pitch. Some of the more euphemistic clients give us a hearty laugh and then madly attempt to change the topic. Another client simply sits there, simply blinking and leaving a trail of…awkward silences, as we scrambleto change the topic. Whichever reaction they give, as consultants, we know these are the symptoms of client resistance.
After personally experiencing this type of resistance and learning from the wise and experienced, here are some lessons we’ve learned on how to tackle client resistance through both precautionary and troubleshooting measures:
First and foremost, tackling resistance from a client starts before the client meeting—way before. It is crucial to be stealthily prepared before entering the meeting room. This means that you should not only have a list of questions and the strategy proposal prepared, but also some research on the client and his or her company. Even the briefest research open doors to a better idea of the client’s potential perspective of the proposal’s impact on his or her company. By entering the mind of the client, it easier to become aware of which aspects of the strategy may raise warning alarms to the client and how to hypothetically address them when necessary.
Once you enter the meeting room and you start your pitch, get your clients on a pattern of saying, “Yes.” Ask them questions that will naturally lead them to say, “Yes.” You want to earn money, right? “Yes.” You want to earn money in the most efficient way possible, right? “Yes.” Once you get your client to go on this pattern of saying, “yes,” you’re client will be more inclined to follow this rhythm and agree to your idea or strategy. It opens your client’s mind to the possibilities.
Another method in retaining your client’s interest and avoiding client resistance is to include the client in creating the idea and strategy. Whether you have a set strategy or not, take the opportunity to thoroughly include your client’s interest, and make them feel that they built the strategy themselves, not you.
Next, be able to pinpoint the exact moment you start to lose your client’s interest. The very moment you see them slip in a yawn, start to look around the room, fidget in their seat, cross their arms, immediately brainstorm how you can pique their interest once again by providing good humor (try this only if you’re funny) or repeating some of the techniques listed above.
When all else seems to fail and the client is still resistant, hunt down the root of the problem. Why is the client hesitant to partake in your strategy or idea? Ask them questions specific to his or her reasons for reluctance. If the client gives answers evasive from the question, keep asking the key question, “Why?” When the problem is finally defined at its roots, address the problem.
Sometimes, despite all the effort, a happy future with the client is not in sight. In these moments, admit the rejection, pick yourself up, and simply grow from the experience for future clients. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Chowing Down a Little Too Much Recently
Here at REaction, things move fast. Don’t believe me? Well, in the 2 days that I was out of town to go to San Diego Comic Con International, James and Tammy saw Robert Downey Jr, finished a stakeholder’s analysis, met with a theatre company in Los Angeles, and had crazy amazing food in LA. It wasn’t as epic as Comic Con, but it seemed quite exciting. When I came back Sunday night, I had close to a dozen emails from REaction that I had to go through to catch up. The best part was that we had a client meeting the next morning to present the stakeholder’s analysis that was completed while I was away. Thankfully, I was able to catch up because most of the content in the analysis was drawn from the interviews that I conducted prior.
The meeting went pretty smoothly since we were all familiar with the content and the clients were very receptive. However, my second day back turned out to be quite the adventure that I wasn’t expecting.
What started as a short trip to Anaheim to get a new key for James’ car led to an exhilarating adventure through time and space. Wait sorry, this isn’t Doctor Who. Because we didn’t have access to a TARDIS, we went to K-1 Speed Indoor Go Kart Racing instead. However, we had to wait for half an hour since someone thought the place was open already (READ: James). During the course of last week, we learned that Tammy secretly wanted to race NASCAR type cars, so we naturally thought that Tammy would be a speed demon, but that wasn’t close to the case. The race was pretty fun since James and I managed to lap Tammy a couple times. The adventure didn’t stop there. We worked in the afternoon at this noir style café which had an amazing milkshake. (Ed. Note: an incredibly good website for such a small coffee shop) The whole place was decorated with film prints from the early 20th century. Dinner was even more awesome, as we went to a Texas-style burger joint and had enormous burgers. Of course you’d expect us to finish after that, but our crazy spontaneous adventure didn’t end there. We went to the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney because Tammy had never had a beignet before and boy were they delicious. We left at just the right time because the fireworks at Disneyland started and we found a perfect spot at a nearby hotel to park and watch the spectacle. It was definitely awesome to watch, especially since we didn’t have to pay the ridiculous Disneyland entrance fee. I can’t wait to see what other crazy adventures we have this week.
(Ed. Note: it may seem like we spent the entire day playing, but I promise we were discussing business at each one of these locations. Definitely thought of messaging strategy while racing and planned out a sick website
Asking the Tough Questions
(Caption for photo above: a typical scene from one of our client meetings)
The third biggest fear I have, aside from public speaking and wasps, is a fear of asking questions. Especially when the ultimate question that begs for even more questions is directed at me– Do you have any questions? It makes me tremble in my shoes, my palms turn clammy, and a small bead of sweat trickles down the side of my forehead. Well, I guess I’m overdramatizing a little there, but it’s true that I am still pretty darn scared of asking questions in general.
As James and Erik probably had witnessed several times, my gut instinct response to that question is to shake my head no and give a nervous awkward smile. Wrong response. When James asks that question, he means it as the statement, “Ask me questions.” Based on James and meetings with The Wooden Floor and Pathways, I learned that I had to get over being awkward about asking questions. As a consultant, it was crucial to ask good questions.
Thus, despite my immeasurable fear and discomfort with asking questions, I had to convince myself to appreciate them, one-step at a time. Surprisingly, there are definite perks to asking clients even the most general of questions, since it (a) shows that you are an active listener, and (b) gets rid of awkward moments during client meetings. No client wants to speak to a dull person who just blankly stares, nor does any client want to be the only one speaking the entire meeting.
Now, those are the benefits at the most basic level. Strong, thoughtful questions will reap many more benefits in consulting. The major role of a consultant is to understand his or her client and to provide advice and suggestions through that understanding. How can a consultant gain understanding? Through questions of course! First of all, preparing some questions before the client meeting will help the meeting run more efficiently and demonstrate the consultant’s level of competence. This will also open room for the consultant to ask more questions based on the client’s response. Having questions ranging from general to specific will be useful to the full understanding the behaviors of the client and the organization, along with uncovering the root of their problems. Lastly, not asking enough questions will lead to a high chance of the consultant regretful and unsatisfied; it’s also a lost opportunity to gain even more valuable insight on the client and organization.
Questions? Feel free to message us.
Doing Better than a Really Good Stakeholder Analysis
Here at REaction we strive to be better than the standard. So when we do a stakeholder analysis, we don’t go for just good or really good; no, we go for REALLY REALLY GOOD. That’s right, TWO reallys, because we have learned firsthand just how important a good stakeholder analysis is to a successful project. A solid stakeholder analysis will tell you two important things: where the group is, and where they want to be. A really really good stakeholder analysis does that and more including: making a personal connection with the stakeholder, understanding not only where a group is but their background as well, and coming up with solutions for problems they didn’t even know they had.
When it came to Pathways Volunteer Hospice’s stakeholder analysis, we took the same approach to go above and beyond. We knew we were on the right track when we were able to get different, sometimes conflicting views on a certain topic, revealing an underlying fracture of beliefs. While not obvious, we knew that we would have to address that issue before we could move on to the real goal. Along the way, we also soon realized that most of our interviews were with people that had some personal tie to the organization, often being very connected, and we realized that it limited the perspectives we were getting.
To solve that problem, we took the initiative to call in a few favors and interview some people we knew personally but had no clue about Pathways to get their honest opinion about hospices. This way, we could get an idea of the target donor’s mindset and try to figure out where the next logical market to expand into would be.
Another big lesson in making a good stakeholders analysis is that you should come in with different groups of people in mind and an appropriate question set for each group. When we did that with Pathways, it made the limited amount of time we could spend with each person much more effective and allowed the stakeholder to give us information that they felt very knowledgeable and comfortable sharing. It also allowed us to sound like we knew what we were talking about and gave the stakeholder more confidence that we were the right people to talk to. (Ed. Note: Major kudos to Nate Barker, our chief analyst, on this. He’s been working with us from South America and is a beast.)
Because we realized the need to have a really really good stakeholder’s analysis and were able to accomplish that, we now feel a lot more confident being able to come up with a very effective strategy blueprint that will actually cater to Pathways’ (or any other clients’) specific needs.
Learning from Our San Jose Trip
As faithful followers know from our vlogs here and here, three members of Team REaction made the six-hour trek up to Northern California a couple weekends ago to meet with and film 2010 CNN Hero Evans Wadongo (one of our clients). Here are 6 things we learned from our trip that we’ll keep in mind for future work:
1. During travel, everyone’s communication styles come out
We all know people communicate differently. But on trips like these, where everyone is unfamiliar with roads, everyone has a different schedule, and everyone has different things they want to accomplish by the end of the weekend, these differences stand out way more. We’re talking about RSG team members, clients, and partners: some people go silent for hours, some people play it by ear, and some people meticulously plan out each day. When these styles clash, time is wasted and opportunities are missed.
2. You can never be prepared enough…
In the last hours before we left for Norcal, we realized that the couple of tripods we were planning to bring were both missing camera base plates, rendering them pretty useless. We decided to bring them anyway, which paid off: in a little downtime on the first day, we were able to find substitutes that allowed us to do all of the amazing shots you see at the end of Vlog Part 2.
3. …but things will always go wrong.
Despite checking and double-checking Evans’ mic before he got on stage, we still ended up getting major interference on his audio feed. Parts of his presentation are now unusable for the video, which is a huge blow. It’s frustrating because, in hindsight, there’s nothing more we could’ve done to ensure that it worked. It just didn’t.
4. Get as many perspectives as we can…
This was the first time we got to meet many of Evans’ supporters, and it was personally my favorite part of the trip interviewing them. It’s one thing to hear the story from the horse’s mouth, and another to read about it; but it’s incredible seeing how passionate people can get about a cause like Evans’. Their voices shake with excitement and their eyes light up when talking about him.
5. ….but only when they’re comfortable.
A reflector putting blinding sunlight on your face. A new interview space. No script. And some random Asian dudes interviewing you… would you feel comfortable talking under these circumstances? If we were to go back and do this all over again, I’d spend more time talking to the interviewees before we put them in front of a big camera and tripod. The comfort level needs to be established first.
6. You can do a lot with a little.
With a lot of borrowed equipment, we were able to do way more than expected. Getting the actual lamp in our hands was a godsend, as we were able to take some amazing close-ups that had never been done before. We got creative, using a blacked out bedroom, a couple of reflectors, a track, and a tripod head as our “studio.”
We’re excited to show you how it all turned out!
Going to Norcal to Work with Evans (Part 2/2)
(Ed. Note: This is part two of Erik’s completely biased account of our trip to Northern California to film and execute a marketing strategy for our client, CNN Hero Evans Wadongo. Part 1 is here.)
What started off as a simple dinner of pho turned out to be something much more interesting. We were originally gonna have thai food, but the fact that Kasra and I actually haven’t ever had it disappointed James. Along the drive we saw a pho place and decided to go there since Kasra and I wanted pho instead. I was all excited to order, even going to so far as to mentally prepare to order in Vietnamese when our waiter came and he wasn’t close to Vietnamese, so that wasn’t happening. While eating I had to take a phone call with someone we were gonna meet up with who was from San Jose (a friend of ours named Kavya), and when I left my seat Kasra and James took the time to poor sriracha (the spicy red sauce) into my pho, which ruined it for me. Of course I poured some in James’s to get revenge, since he is an even bigger wimp when it comes to anything spicy. This would lead to a late night run to In-N-Out before the night would be over. Of course, we got Evans some shrimp pad thai, and we came back and finished the Keynote around 11. By then, we were all tired and gave Evans a ride home. Along the way we learned that one of this favorite artist was John Legend. So the next thing would be to play John Legend of course right? Well instead of using James’ iPod which had a whole album Kasra decided to play his one song featuring John Legend which resulted in many awkward moments at the vulgar language choice. (Ed. Note: we don’t really know if this CNN Hero cusses.)
Thankfully we were almost at Moffet Airfield, where Singularity University was located. Somehow this airfield contained 3 massive airplane hangers, a NASA research facility, and a small university. Naturally we were very curious at this place and were very surprised with what we found. For starters, all you need to enter a NASA facility is to show your driver’s license. We still haven’t figured out what that proves other than you know how to drive a car, because I don’t think you need to be a citizen to have a license. After we dropped of Evans, the three of us decided to drive around the place to scout it out for the next morning only to nearly drive into a HUGE hanger that we barely recognized because it blended into the skyline.
After that little adventure we went back and owned James once again at Monopoly Deal (fun fact; we played probably over a dozen games of Monopoly Deal that weekend, and James only won one of them the whole trip.) The next morning was showtime. After waking up pretty early, although not as early as we did for our trip we made it to the university and picked up Evans in the knick of time. After that, we set up our camera’s and started rolling. Evans made an awesome presentation and we were able to record all of that. Afterwards there was a Q&A and people went up to talk to him directly and we were able to film all of that. There was only one thing left to film and that was the lamp itself. After spending $100 on UPS overnight shipping, Lane was able to provide us the only lamp in existence in the United States. After a very ironic moment where Evans asked us how to turn on the lamp because it was too dark for him to see everything, we took an extensive collection of photos and videos included a ridiculous track shot of the camera going head down toward the lamp. I can’t wait to see how Kasra fits that in the video. Even though it was raining that day, everything cleared up by the afternoon and we were able to leave with relatively good weather.
After some sad goodbyes, another 5 hour road trip, and hundreds of dead bugs on the front of James’ car… we were home. I’m pretty sure everyone knocked out fast after they got back home.
We’ll have a post soon dedicated to the Just One Lamp project, as well as one about lessons learned from this trip. Thanks for following! Please subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/reactiongroup.
Going to Norcal to Work with Evans (Part 1/2)
Waking up at 4 in the morning is never a good thing. Not being able to find base plates (“shoes”) for the two primary tripods you planned on using that trip isn’t a good sign of things to come. Myself, James, and our cameraman Kasra had a combined total of 9 hours of sleep the night before and were facing a drudging 6 hour car ride up to Northern California at 6AM. 3 days, Sunday to Tuesday, all to meet one amazing man, Evans Wadongo: 2010 CNN Hero and, luckily, our client. We were surprisingly awake for most of the ride…well two of us were, Kasra conveniently woke up in time to buy many scratchers at gas stations. After 5 hours of hills, bumps, and windy terrain, we made it to Milpitas, CA, which was conveniently cheap for accommodations and close to Mountain View, Cupertino, and San Jose. Our first task of the day was food, and there happened to be a Chili’s next to our hotel like a godsend. Our second and probably more important task was to find a base plate for our ridiculously expensive camera stand which we probably shouldn’t have taken the risk of bring up with us, given it cost about a million dollars. After visiting a few shops and driving around for about half an hour, we finally found a base plate and things were looking up.
Along the way we found out that Evans missed his flight scheduled for the previous night and we were able to take advantage of the situation and thought of a brilliant idea. Why not go to the airport meet him and get some awesome footage, which turned out very well. We also were able to meet Lane Hill, one of Evans’ biggest supporters and his handler of sorts in the United States, and she was fully on board with what we are planning. To those of you who have seen Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, you’ll enjoy our homage of sorts to his video. Or think it’s a blatant rip off, not helped by the fact that we watched this movie the night before we came. Think of it this project as the Kenyan version of An Inconvenient Truth, except with a much smaller screen that doesn’t expand, and a slightly smaller budget. Along the way we also taught Kasra to play Monopoly Deal and quite possibly got him addicted, which doesn’t help that he might have a slight gambling problem given his penchant for scratchers.
Also, on the first day, James may or may not have driven completely over a curb he didn’t see, may or may not leaving a huge scrape mark on the front of the car. Just saying.
The next day went off so much better than expected. We started off with a big (not)healthy dose of McDonalds for breakfast, and then proceeded to meet up with Lane and Evans at the gorgeous house of Homero Oyarce. Thanks to him, we have a stunning background to our interview clips. The personal interviews went very smoothly, even if I almost died from a heat stroke during the last interview. Afterwards, Kasra spent a good 3 hours interviewing and recording Evans. James and I weren’t too sure if it hit Kasra that he was interviewing a CNN Hero/future president of Kenya. In the meantime, James and I were working on the amazing .keynote that would serve as the epic backdrop to Evan’s presentation the next morning. However, it took a little longer than we expected to find what we needed, so we decided to get dinner and get Evans some Shrimp Pad Thai. More to come…but you can expect to get even more exciting!
Featured on CSR Wire!
Thanks to our awesome mentors and friends at Compass (seriously, it’s a program that keeps on giving), we were spotlighted today on CSR Wire. The article offers a little more of a glimpse into why we’re doing what we’re doing this summer. And, a little well-deserved credit goes to our team members who are giving up traditional internships for this incredible startup experience.
Welcoming Cheng Gong to the Team
(Ed. Note: Today we welcome and spotlight our third (and probably last) addition to the REaction team this summer. People who know Cheng personally know him as the guy who’s four math levels ahead of his grade. People who don’t know him personally know him as the boy genius developer for this and this.)
My name is Cheng, and my job is to make good websites.
About three months ago, I was hired by REaction as an intern (read: unpaid web designer/developer/administrator/technical consultant). A little technical note for historical reference: as of right now, I have about 5 years of working with websites, and am fluent in XHTML, CSS, some JQuery, most PHP/MySQL, and lots and lots of Photoshop for graphics. (Ed. Note: blah blah blah blah blah)
Bad resume aside, I decided to join REaction full-time this summer for several reasons. Despite my skills, my lack of professional experience and certifications meant that an internship was the only way for me to get “hired” by anyone. James, our all-time favorite CEO, had seen my projects from before and decided to offer me a position on the team - which I accepted, of course! So this summer, at the very least, I will be working on a multitude of websites, and hopefully, at the end, learn more about the skills I listed earlier (which is why I said “for historical reference”). Another reason that I’m happy to be here is that interning with REaction is much more unique than another local business, because REaction is a start-up that moves quickly, and at the same time nationwide, with “offices” on both the west and east coast. Being able to experience the day-to-day workings of a start-up firsthand is probably one of the more exciting parts of my day, even more exciting than publishing v2 of a site. Finally, I believe in the impact behind REaction - by helping existing nonprofits, we are increasing awareness and donor participation in a huge range of social issues across the globe.
But you didn’t come here to read about that (if you did, I’d like to point you over to the official story behind REaction.) “After” our last work session at the office, I discovered a new favorite game of chance: Monopoly Deal. Loosely based on the board game, much of what you can do is based on the cards you draw (just like real life!). Even though James won all three games that he played with us, I still believe it’s based too much on chance. (Ed. Note: sore loser…) So now I’m going to read up on strategies and calculate the probabilities so I can count cards … Monopoly Deal cards.
Anyways, I’ll let you know what my research turns up! And about the upcoming websites that I’m building for REaction!
Have a fantastic day,
Welcoming Tammy Cho to the Summer Team
(Ed. Note: We’ve caught some flack for lack of gender diversity on Team REaction. In truly reactive fashion, today we gladly welcome our second female to the team, Tammy Cho. Consider the testosterone tempered.)
This morning, I woke up quite anxious to see what was in store for my first official day with the REaction team. I had already met with James, Erik and Cheng at our orientation last Sunday, but today was my first official day (my mom even made toast and eggs for me). When James and Erik finally picked me up fifteen minutes after they said they would, (hm, apparently I have to get used to this) we headed towards Panera Bakery prepared for a long day of work. On our way there, my lips were cracking from laughing at their off-tune singing to “The Show Goes On” and “Give Me Everything” (or just possibly my allergic reaction to Softlips Raspberry chapstick).
Within the first five minutes of entering Panera Bakery for the first time, I witnessed Erik order a giant cinnamon roll glazed with heavy frosting and creamy sugar for breakfast. Yikes. The minute James and I turned back to look at Erik’s plate after politely declining his offer to taste the sugary beast, it was gone with only cracked pieces of white glaze scattered on his plate. (Ed. Note: cracked like her lips?)
After we got over our shock of how fast Erik devoured his plate, James began to recite his overview of our plans for the day (perfectly, as usual), and I began my first official assignment – catching up on all of our latest clients. While reading through research articles, skimming through statistics, watching sample feedback loop YouTube videos, reviewing our clients’ websites, and getting Gmail spammed by James, I became more confident with my reasons for joining the REaction team as an intern this summer. I had two main reasons for joining REaction LA over the summer: One, to widen my knowledge and experience with the different social causes and non-profit organizations. And two, to have hands-on experience with the successes and failures associated with creating a new business. I’ve already seen some events that would fulfill goal number 2. James’ frustration when he couldn’t change the heading color to orange and when he jumped for joy when Erik figured out how to add the FeedBurner onto our blog.
Can’t wait for our second day of working together!