Don't Fill in the Blanks

July 14, 2020

When I interview a guest on the shows I host, my last question is always the same:  I ask guests for their best contact information, whether that’s a website, social media channel, or phone number, so that listeners interested in their products or services know the best way to connect.

Normally, that’s not a problem for my guests, even the most nervous ones.

And then there’s a guest who surprises you.

On one show I had a guest who was the development director for a national chain opening a location in Alpharetta. He was on the show to promote a new location opening in the area.

The whole interview was a bit painful. I couldn’t tell whether this guy was nervous or just a man of few words. At certain points I felt like I was in a verbal struggle to wrest answers out of his mouth.

When we mercifully got to the end of the interview, I breathed a sigh of relief and asked my usual last question.

He gave the website, followed by silence. The website was the site for the national chain, not the local location about to open. I wait for a moment. I expected him to at least give a local phone number or something, anything, which might make it easy for customers to connect with this one new outlet he was promoting out of a large national chain.

That’s not what happened.  It was website, then crickets.

Trying to help out and fill in what I thought was a significant void, I looked at my show notes, and said, “And I see that the phone number, for those who’d like to call, is . . .,” and I gave the number.

“That’s my cell phone number,” he monotoned.

We edited that little snippet out later.

As professional services providers in conversations with our clients, sometimes we get anxious when we’re attempting to conduct a good value conversation to diagnose their needs, hopes, and desires. We’re striving to make sure the client is a good fit for our practice, and price based on the value we deliver. Sometimes we have a client who is reticent, or maybe they’re busy. They think that they already know what they want, and they believe that some of the questions you ask aren’t relevant or that you’re just making conversation. They react by shutting down or trying to pivot the conversation to your solutions.

Instead of exercising a bit more patience or engaging the client from another direction which might yield the answers we’re looking for, we end our value conversation and move on.

That’s a mistake.

Instead of assuming I had the correct phone number, I should have asked my guest, “do you have a phone number that our listeners here in the area can call for more information?”

I made an assumption, filled in the blank, and was dead wrong.

If you haven’t had a deep enough value conversation with a client, later on, when you’re crafting options to put in a proposal, you’ll make conjectures, some of which may be half right, some of which may be dead wrong. You’ll end up with proposing solutions which may not fit the needs of the client, and you might lose a good engagement. You might end up with a client who’s a bad fit for your practice. You might end up mispricing the engagement.

Slow down and be patient. Always conduct a thorough value conversation.

Don’t fill in the blanks.


©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray

Image Credit:  JumpStory


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.


  1. Bill Lampton, Ph.D. on July 14, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    My mantra: “I never listened myself into trouble.”

    • John Ray on July 21, 2020 at 11:36 am

      A good mantra to live by, Bill. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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