If you’ve ever been part of a family raising pre-teens (or even watched one on a sitcom), you know all about “the talk”. In preparing for this experience as the caring adult, endless questions can drive resistance:  When to have it, who should say what, how to best prepare for it, what to do to remove as much discomfort as possible. The answers aren’t always easy to come by, and all too often, avoidance becomes the first line of defense.

For many professionals, bringing up the subject of fees and budgets with potential clients (or even existing ones, who are exploring adding services) and learning about their budgets provokes a similar (or even greater) level of anxiety.

Here’s the good news: the solution for both is easy; focus on them and prepare for a meaningful conversation that moves things forward.  Three simple approaches:

Internally, focus your preparation on why first. Be clear about why this conversation is so important. We care deeply about the values, health and continuing maturity of our kids and grandkids. We want them to understand matters that are not entirely clear to them. And, we want them to realize we are there for them during these periods of change.

The same is true in conversation with a potential, or existing, client about a service. We care about their needs, and, when we believe our services are genuinely the best solution, we need to turn our focus on them— even if it means bringing up a subject, such as money, that we’re a little uncomfortable about.

During “the talk” which often involves several conversations, timing matters. In our preparation, we should first seek to discover where they are, and then identify their needs and wants second. The deep discussion about investment— of self-management with the kids, of money and time with the potential clients—comes third and must always precede detailed recommendations and solutions.

Anticipating objections creates a more positive experience for all.  Building an environment of positive emotional connections helps to do just that, with kids and with clients. Our approach is not to pursue, push or manipulate. We’re guiding their decision making as they discover, identify needs and wants, realize their actions will take investments and consider their options. As adults, we have to anticipate the kids’ objections: “Everyone else does”, “I’m old enough to make my own decisions” and have our answers.

The same is true with potential clients. The answer to “Your price is too high” has many proven answers, ranging from “what was your expectation?” to “can you share your rationale?” to “Price is important and so is ROI. How does a 9x return…?” The issue is less about what is the right response, and more about what is the best way to keep the conversation going.

Knowing why, planning timing based on their decision making process and anticipating objections all contribute to making serious conversations— whether with our kids or with potential clients—meaningful, effective and decisive. AAT, ATT: all about them, all the time.