There are lots of cool tools out now. Developers can dive into a new JavaScript framework almost every day and each one is bigger/better/faster than previous ones. These new tools are often shiny and fun, and there is nothing wrong with trying them out, but there is something wrong when you foist them on your clients.

Maybe you’re not a developer but you help clients with marketing. Let’s say you have a site analytics tool you prefer. Maybe it’s the CRM that your clients use, or their web content management system.

You should have tools that you know well, and that you prefer. However, don’t assume your clients will feel the same way. If you’re frequently changing every client to a new tool you are likely doing many of them a disservice.

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Change for a reason

Just because you have your preferred tool doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice for your client. Even if it is the best choice, it doesn’t mean you should be the one to change what your clients use.

Before making any change on behalf of your clients you need to ask yourself a few questions.

1. Will this provide more value than it costs?

Any new tool takes time to migrate and then time to train users. Let’s say that the total cost of migration and training is $1000. Will moving to the tool earn them at least $3000 more this year? Will it earn them $10K more this year?

If your answer is, “I’m not sure” then you shouldn’t be making any changes.

Only change things for your clients if they’re going to earn back at least 3x the cost of the change.

2. What is the problem with their current choices?

All choices have trade-offs. A CRM that has great reporting may not have great tools for making connections between different clients with similar needs. If your ‘perfect’ CRM has those client connection tools it may be really tempting to change CRMs to get something you’re familiar with.

But is the lack of your favourite feature really a problem for your client? Are they losing money because of the problems with their current choices? Is it possible to solve that problem by changing how they use their current system?

If you don’t have a real problem causing the client pain, you don’t have a reason to make them use your preferred tool.

Make sure you’re solving a real problem with your changes.

3. Am I just choosing something that I feel comfortable with?

We naturally get comfortable with anything the more we use it. My chosen code editor is Vim, which has a particular way of working with text. Any time I try out another solution the first thing I look at is ‘does this have vim keys?’. I’m just not comfortable working with a code editor that doesn’t have this feature.

Consultants make decisions for their clients for the same reasons. They’re simply comfortable using Option A instead of what the client is currently using. They regularly ignore what’s in the best interests of their client just so they themselves feel a bit more comfortable.

Don’t be that consultant who makes changes for clients for the sake of personal comfort. Make sure that your client will earn more, and that any change will solve a real problem your client is currently suffering from. Finally, run your choices by someone you trust to help make sure that you’re not defaulting to something you feel comfortable with.

If you can do those things, you’re going to be providing much better service to your clients.

photo credit: legofenris cc