Clients Want The Bad News Too…


As trusted advisors, we work very hard at doing the best work we can possibly do for our client. 

As the relationship progresses, we learn about our client’s needs, wants, desires, habits, beliefs and behaviors.

Eventually we know whether the client will be successful in their endeavors or if they will fail no matter what we do.

Imagine being a doctor and not delivering the bad news to your patient!  Do you think the relationship will be better if you spare the prognosis?

Is this fair to our clients?

I like to tell the following story –  “Thank goodness I am like the cardiologist and not the oncologist.  Most or many of the oncologist’s patients don’t make it long-term. For the cardiologist, most patients do make it.  The oncologist says that you have X time left.  It is very sad.  The cardiologist says, I am not worried about you right now, but, if the current behavior continues, I am very worried about you in 15-20 years.  You need to exercise, eat right, drink less, lose some weight and drop some of these dangerous behaviors.  If you do, you should be fine.”

Clients need to hear the bad news.  They get it and more often than not, if you are the trusted advisor, they will alter their behavior.  Why?

Because they want to succeed!  That is why they hired you in the first place.

Guide – Clients want to hear the bad news along with the good.  This allows them the opportunity to take corrective action.

Action Item – Tell them the story of the cardiologist and the oncologist.  Share the potentially bad news.  Be the trusted advisor.

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.


2 Responses to “Clients Want The Bad News Too…”

  1. 1 theadvisorscenter June 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks Jon. With the right clients, it can make you monopolistic. But also be prepared for surprising results. The last time I gave this “talk” to a client, she cried! Ah… Tears of joy she said. She was grateful for a trusted advisor. I will say I was pleasantly surprised…

  2. 2 Jon LoDuca June 14, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I love this one. Essentially, this is a call to action to be leaders with clients – telling bad news as opposed to hiding under the desk. Sharing bad news is not only the hallmark of good practices and shrewd counsel, it’s also the cornerstone of competition-proof service.

    We simply cannot be stewards of the relationship if we don’t step up when the news is bad or the advice is challenging.

    Thank you Eliot for this one!

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