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Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours -- Understanding the Three Market Types

COW Library : Business & Career Building Tutorials : Ronald Lindeboom : Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours -- Understanding the Three Market Types
CreativeCOW presents Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours -- Understanding the Three Market Types -- Business & Marketing Tutorial
Kingman, AZ
Ronald Lindeboom. All rights reserved.

In this article, Creative COW co-founder Ronald Lindeboom explores a concept that will empower your negotiations, streamline your client acceptance policy and give you a near-failsafe system for spotting winning clients and quickly avoiding time-consuming grinders. This simple formula is so basic and easy to understand that once you see the concept, you will probably say: "I know this!" -- and you do, you see it working everyday in your business and in your life.

Over the years I've seen one thing in my sales and marketing career that rarely changes. In fact, it is so predictable that you can easily spot it during your negotiation cycles. As you read this, if you are like many I've spoken to over the years who have commented after reading this -- you will likely already know this principle. If you internalize this concept, you will not only make more money but you will avoid many of those heartache associates that drain you of not only your enthusiasm and time, but often your money as well.

What is this marketing and negotiation secret that has so much power?

There's a principle locked away in human nature, which if you understand it -- and it's easy to do once you see the concept -- that helps quickly separate the sheep from the goats. It's a principle that I call "Clients or Grinders."

At the heart of this concept are what I refer to as "The Three Basic Personality Types of The Market." If you take the time to understand how these three personality types build relationships, you will be able to spot each of them in just moments and fine-tune and adjust your efforts when dealing with each of them. Here's why...

Understanding the "The Market's Three Basic Personalities"

All markets can be broken up into three layers because there are three basic kinds of people. Sure, there are admittedly infinite nuances of human personality but if you will give me a few minutes more, I think that I can quickly prove to you that there are three basic personality types. Here's what they are and how they work...

CLIENTS Have you ever had one of those great clients that relies on your judgment and expertise and values your experience and always pays on time and never haggles about price? They're out there. They are that Top 15% of the market that I call the "clients" and everyone wants them. But they rarely shop projects once they find someone they trust and once they learn that they can respect you and get good service from you, nine times out of ten, they'll not even send out an RFP looking for bids.

You see, these people are all about trust and relationships and once you build that trust it's something that no "low-baller" could ever come in and destroy. These people know what they are worth and they do business with you because you know what you are worth as well -- and they'll send a "low-baller" packing because it's clear to them that the low-baller knows the value of their self-worth, as well! These people are quick to recommend you to their friends and associates -- usually, they are people just like them because "birds of a feather really do flock together" -- and they will actively try to help your business grow. It's in their nature because they like themselves and they like people.

In the middle of the market is what I call the 70% middle market and as a group they are, for the most part, fair-minded, honest and they do not usually beat on you for price -- though they do appreciate a good but fair value. They may not have the sense of loyalty that the top 15% of the market have but they do try to be fair (they know they are not perfect and they have made their peace with themselves and they treat you the same) -- and they will try to work within relationships wherever possible.

Within this middle 70% group, you can fine-tune their reactions by their proximity to either the Top 15% of the market or the Low-End 15% of the market. As these middle market people get closer to the top or the bottom, they act accordingly and take on traits of excellence or traits of "grinderness" that you will live to regret if you choose to do business with them (if they near the crossover point where they fall into the lower 15% of the market).

As you learn to spot where within this majority 70% market area they stand, you will quickly be able to spot those "clients" you wish to work with or those "grinders" that you want to send packing -- nicely of course, but packing nonetheless!

I am always amazed that the Low-End 15% of the market is the first part of the market that most new businesses set out to work with. Some do it consciously and others unconsciously but the end result is the same -- a lot of work for very little money, if any. This often happens because many people think that you have to undercut existing businesses to build a new business. That's simply not true. But if you believe that you do have to undercut the market and you price yourself as a "low-ball" artist, you set yourself up to attract the very people that occupy and are quite happy being the lowest 15% of the market.

I call these people "Grinders" and for good reason: They will grind you and demand that you treat them like the people in the Top 15% category -- and they will expect that treatment from you as they push and push to get things below your cost. They'll promise you more jobs down the road and that just this one job needs a deal -- the others will make you some money. Yeah, right! The truth is: they'll never let you make a dime off them while you suffer through insults, mistrust, constant changes and arguments over what you agreed to or didn't -- and no matter how well you do, nine-times-out-of-ten there will almost always be something wrong with the job you did.

They will never be happy. They do not recommend you to their associates and this is probably due to the fact that they know themselves quite well and think that everyone is like that creep they see in the mirror every morning. If they need to invent a reason not to pay you, they can get incredibly creative! The Net is full of stories of people trying to collect on debts made by these people.

Now that you know how these basic personality traits manifest, what can you do with this information -- what's the "real world" application of this knowledge?

When you set out in your next negotiation or even a job interview -- it always works the same, human nature is very consistent -- watch how the three market-types are something that you can count on like clockwork. Adjust your presentation to interact with these people. If they are a Top 15% personality, focus on things you can do for them. Build your stock in their eyes by letting them know that you are listening to them and that you can address their concerns and add to their business -- now that doesn't mean sell yourself, it means sell their story and how you can empower what they've been communicating to you. Sell them on the research you have done on their company without telling them you've done so -- make their story come alive to them -- not your story, their story.

If they are in the middle market and it's a job you'd like to do, then work with them so that they understand that you have a vision for their project. If you do have to give something away to get the deal, then do so by taking something else away from the project -- it doesn't have to be something huge, just something that establishes that they can't get something for nothing. (They understand this and will respect it.)

But if during the course of your negotiations it becomes clear that you have a "Grinder" on the line -- then for goodness sake, pull the hook out of their mouth and throw that smelly ole fish right back into the water! If you don't, you'll surely come to regret the decision just as sure as eggs is eggs!

Trust me: They're not good eating and they're just full of bones anyway!



Re: Clients or Grinders: Understanding the Three Market Types
by Michael Sigmon
What profound truths here. I think many of us know this stuff instinctively, but it's quite helpful to have it spelled out and crystallized.

Last year I worked with a client who fit the 'bottom 15%' TO A TEE. I could have sworn that you knew this woman personally!

@Michael Sigmon
by Ronald Lindeboom
Hello Michael,

I appreciate your kind words about "Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours." My apologies for visiting this page so infrequently that it's taken me a year to thank you.

When I first wrote this article, it had been dawning on me that there always seemed to be three basic types of people: the generous, the fair and the onerous. The more thought that I put into it, the more it all just began falling together.

I once worked for a guy who wondered why we never became friends and who ground on me until in the end he paid me what worked out to $10 an hour for marketing work, which I normally get paid very well for. He complained and lied, tried to ruin my reputation -- and taught me a part of the great lesson that helped birth "Clients or Grinders."

One of the greatest lessons of dealing with grinders is that no matter how much you do for them, you will always fail, you will always be the bad guy, they will always be let down, and there will be nothing you could change to make it better.

Another lesson is: don't tell grinders that they are grinders, they'll never believe you. They are the most important person in the world and if you don't believe it, just ask them. They'll tell you. ;)

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America

Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
That's very helpful. Thanks Ron! :)
by Adam Henderson
That's very helpful. Thanks Ron! :) I might be in with a top 15% guy at the minute but time will tell, very soon...
Clients or Grinders: Understanding the Three Market Types
by Alejandro Moreu
Simply the truth, that
Clients or Grinders: Understanding the Three Market Types
by Abraham
What a great article - thank you Ron! This has helped me so much!

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