Distractions are everywhere and for professionals who have “Shiny Object Syndrome” (SOS) the world is a dangerous place. Slick, pervasive marketing campaigns attract even the most educated and otherwise disciplined executives to chase the next best thing. This segment of the market buys into and then often pays for the promises of new technology, coaching or other products and services which seem to answer their problems.

It is important to recognize which of your clients have SOS. They will often give you direction and ask you to begin a project. Yet, before you complete the task at hand and can test or implement what you have created, your client is enamored with something new, and probably expensive. They change direction. You are now on a new project using a new technology or tool or method. There is a learning curve associated with this that you really cannot reasonably bill the client for. And if you are able to bill the client, these are not necessarily good billable hours.

Your client may experience disappointment because they are continuously investing in his business growth but never really seeing results. This happens because he (or she) does not allow the seeds he has planted through each project you have completed to come to fruition. Instead, he simply wants to keep trying new things without properly measuring his success or failure in the last endeavor.

Here is the first way to manage a client with SOS. Help them establish clarity of focus and build a system to measure all opportunities in an objective manner. This will help him separate the real opportunities from the illusions.

Schedule time with each client and engage in an active listening session. Ask the client to share their goals with you. These should include project goals, business objectives and their perceived life purpose. Be sure that these goals are clear and measurable. This will serve as your baseline for measuring success in future projects. Document the conversation and review the main points with your client to make sure they are accurate.

When you client approaches you with a new idea, take some time to listen. If you hear your client talking about “how” to accomplish a result without sharing “why” they want to accomplish this result, you may have a case of SOS on your hands. Those who are suffering from SOS typically spend a majority of their time selling others on the benefits of a particular way of solving a problem. They begin to sound like a commercial for that which they want to purchase.

While being open to their ideas, you should ask them how this new idea helps them accomplish their project goals, business objectives or life purpose. You should ask them;

“On a scale of 1-5 how aligned with your goals, objectives and purpose are the outcomes you imagine this will create?” (In this case, “1” represents “No Alignment” and “5” represents “Perfect Alignment.”)

If they have offered a rating of 4 or 5, follow this question with,
“Please describe in detail why you believe this is true.”

Ask for clarifying points anywhere you are unsure of what they mean or if you feel that they need to analyze their reasoning more. You should support their enthusiastic vision, but at the same time help them see past the marketing rhetoric to the reality of the results that are likely from engaging in the project.

If, by the end of the discussion, both of you are convinced it is a good idea you should move forward with it. However, before you do, establish clear objectives including time frames for testing, implementing, and allow results to show up. Failure is often a result of not thinking clearly at the outset of a project and then changing too many things too quickly.

In the next article, I will share another strategy for dealing with clients with SOS that will save you both time and energy.

Author's Bio: 

Denise Griffitts, "Your Partner In Success", is a Virtual Assistance Industry Expert, Web Developer and Social Media Marketing Professional who leads a large team of internet savvy professionals. We become your strategic partner and work with you to build and grow your online presence.