I never take brochures or PowerPoint decks when I meet with firm leaders at prospective clients. Instead, I take two things: a legal pad for taking notes and a book that I leave behind at the close of meetings.

The book is not a self-promotional diatribe or even a business book. It is The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman. Handing it over guarantees I will receive a stupefied reaction in response. (This is not my goal, of course; it 5_love_languagesis simply a bi-product of the gift!) Some recipients even become physically uncomfortable when they see the title. I tell them that I understand that it is odd to get a book about love in a business meeting, but I give it for several reasons.

First, the book changed my marriage and family life. It showed me how to communicate and demonstrate my love to my wife and kids in a way that they understand. When you read a book that has a personal impact, you want to spread the word.

Second, I believe that the quality of life is predicated on relationships. It is incongruent to be one way at home and another when managing people at work. If you do not have your house in order, it is difficult to make meaningful and sustainable headway in your work life.

Third, professional services are about trusted relationships. The book is about how we speak love and support in our most important relationship, but the message of the book has great application with clients, managers and staff.

The most important reason I give the book is that it communicates who Prudent Pedal is philosophically. In effect, the book helps our potential clients self-select. Prospects understand upfront that we are not in business just to make a buck and that meaningful (not just trusted) relationships are what it is all about for us.

Do we lose some potential clients to this approach? Yes. But does that bother us? Not at all. Our ideal client is one who understands the value of the strategic marketing capabilities that drive revenue growth AND the value of personal growth.

Takeaway

Being true to yourself has an associated cost: you cannot please everyone. I have spent a lifetime building the courage to be true to what I believe. Are you clear about the value that you deliver and what is most important to you for your firm? Do you have an inviolable value that helps prospects self-select? If it is not love, what is it for your firm?

Be prudent.

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