“Client Profiling” is my own term, as far as I know, and at a previous agency, we spent a number of internal education sessions refining our skills in this area. What it comes down to is this: understanding how your client processes information in order to make decisions.
Does she need a lot of information to ponder all the options, or is she more of a top-line info-only person in order to make that decision and keep moving. Is he visual or conceptual? Are you better giving one recommendation or laying out several options? Does she need to talk it through to determine a direction? These are just some of the personality traits to consider when you start working with a new client. It certainly takes some time and good old-fashioned listening, but to develop a credible relationship and work at growing the business, it is crucial.
If you think about it in a broader context, you probably want to be able to understand these kinds of dynamics in any aspect of your day-to-day interactions with co-workers, friends, family, kids, babysitter, dog groomer, UPS guy, etc. in order to have successful outcomes. In a typical day, we can get in a lot of practice honing our profiling skills.
For me, most specifically, I so crave to have a complete profile of my 6½ month-old puppy, Yodel. He is an Entlebucher mix, a breed of Swiss Mountain Dog. On a daily and sometimes hourly basis, I am trying to figure out how he will best process the information (i.e., commands) I give him. Usually a treat will seal the deal; but only if its been given for the same command many times and over many weeks or months.
The same consistency over time is necessary to build those client relationships, too. We know they will be more intent to listen if you always lead with some sort of enticement (better sales, save money, the occasional lunch).
Outside of the treat strategy, you just have to learn how to elicit the behaviors that you want in the end. Discussions can always be friendly with your client but certain topics are likely to cause stress and strife. Maybe it’s sales or budget, technology, an element of the business that is undergoing a restructure of some kind. It could be anything but the discussion has to happen and a decision made. How you package the information will make all the difference, whether it be a soft lead-up to the issue, or the hard and fast bullets of the situation, or something in between. I’ve tried versions of these scenarios with Yodel. He doesn’t like the hard and fast bullets so much since they usually accompany a raised voice. So I keep refining my approach, and I would like to believe he is starting to like me after all these months(!) If only I realized sooner that I could have applied my profiling skills to puppy rearing.