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What Your Clients Don't Know Might Surprise You


Published by Linda Rolf on 4/19/2021

Explain what your clients want to know in words they understand

It was 2011, and I had the dubious honor of leading a 90-year-old member organization for the year. I say "dubious" because we were facing a financial crisis that challenged our future. We created a team of strategic leaders who would eventually bring us soundly to the other side. It was during the months of triage that a friend and fellow member made a comment that has impacted my thinking since then.

. . .

"You think that everyone has the ability to connect the dots like you do. They don't."

She was right. I assumed the way I saw the problem and the potential solutions was obvious to everyone in the room. Not only did I miss the opportunity to frame the conversations, but I underestimated the value in my ability to connect dots in unexpected ways.

We all suffer from the curse of knowledge bias. The deeper our expertise the more likely we are to assume that people we are communicating with have our same background, that they completely understand what we are saying. We miss a valuable moment to share our knowledge. More importantly, we reinforce their flawed assumptions.

. . .

True Story



Last week I attended a webinar for accountants and bookkeepers. (No, I haven't gone down some weird professional path!). The accountant presenter was explaining how the attendees could build a significant following on Facebook's rented land. (I'll reserve my thoughts on that tactic for another day.) When the latest Facebook hack -- which wasn't a hack this time – was mentioned, he dismissed it with "Everyone gets hacked. Don't worry about it."

I was dumbfounded.

Here was an accounting professional who should be continually reminding his large following about data security and preserving client trust. Instead of he didn't even blink.

And then I realized he wasn't being flippant. He simply didn't know what he didn't know. He was lacking the information and knowledge to give a more responsible reply. We all make assumptions and decisions based on our knowledge, leaving a lot of unconnected dots on the floor.

. . .

Here's My Fun Challenge For You



  • List 5 fundamental things you know that you think your clients completely understand. For example, if you are a CPA or CFO, do your clients fully understand how to calculate and regularly monitor their customer lifetime value? Do they even know they should care?
  • Ask 5 of your most engaged clients and 5 clients you seldom talk with to explain your 5 fundamental topics to you.
  • Make it a conversation not a test.
  • Write down their responses.
  • Do you see the opportunities? They already consider you their trusted advisor. How much more will they value the relationship when you also become a knowledge leader?


  • . . .

    Become a Valued Knowledge Teacher



    Explaining what you know in simple words your clients will understand and appreciate is sometimes harder than it seems. When we started down this road with The Questionary, I was surprised at how challenging it was to find the right plain English words.

    The technique that helped me explain technical words and fuzzy concepts was creating visuals. Drawing the picture in Canva or creating videos in Doodly and Toonly became my go-to starting point. An unexpected bonus was I taught myself more than a few things I thought I already knew and loved doing it!

    What is end to end encryption in plain English

    . . .

    Give this challenge a try. Both you and your clients will have fun, and it's a chance to show them you have more to share than they knew.





    Tags: thought leader, knowledge sharing, client education



    . . .

    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner. They actively contribute to each client's success through mutual collaboration, thoughtful business analysis, enterprise software development, technology integration, database design and management, opportunity discovery, business growth strategy, and marketing initiatives.

    They believe that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."




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