Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking isn’t just a show about the meme-worthy Sima from Mumbai. Hear me out. It’s also packed with intriguing insights about running a sensitive, client-facing business. I wanted to talk about Sima Aunty’s approach — and what it can teach us about client management. This applies to copywriting, marketing, and any kind of freelancing generally. Disclaimer: I did have an Indian grandfather but I’m not here to talk about the politics of arranged marriage. Nor am I in any way qualified to. 1.) Work out who’s actually pulling the strings Sima runs an international matchmaking business. She starts by introducing her clients and talking about their personality and what they’re seeking in a prospective partner. But what often emerges is that the client (ie the person seeking a partner) isn’t the only person involved. Family members are often in the room during client meetings and have the ability to make or break a match, even when the client disagrees. When managing a client, it’s a mistake to assume your relationship with the person directly in front of you is the only one that matters. In my copywriting business I’ve often found that the person I deal with, typically a marketing manager or someone in business development, can have their ideas overturned by someone higher up the food chain. It pays to work out who’s pulling the strings and keep them onside. Listen to their concerns early on and work hard to win them round.
2.) Don’t automatically trust a client’s diagnosis.
Sima sometimes disagrees with a client about the challenges they’re facing. To their face. It’s a bold strategy, but it shows that she’s a savvy operator who’s prepared to offer her own perspective. Trusting self-diagnosis can get you into some sticky situations. I’ve found that it’s important to do your own diagnosis of a client’s problem before selling them the solution. If someone comes to you insisting they need a new sales funnel, fresh website copy or a software package, it’s not a good idea to take them at their word without doing some due diligence. If they’re trusting you to fix their problem, they’re not going to thank you for selling them the wrong solution. Ask plenty of questions, don’t be afraid to take your time, and if you don’t understand something, ask the simplest question of all: “why do you need this?”
3.) Adapt to client feedback Sima’s ability to react to negative feedback is... intriguing. When a person meets a disastrous match, she listens. Then once she’s worked out what didn’t work, she sets them up with someone more suitable. On the rare occasions that I’ve had to deal with negative client feedback, I’ve found that the most important thing is to let them talk. Of course it's easy to get defensive. However, listening carefully to what went wrong is the fastest way to get back on track. 4.) Learn to compromise
A client relationship is like any other relationship — it requires adaptability. The Apprentice (UK and US) pushes the idea that rigidity and tough negotiating are the most important traits in business. In contrast, Sima often talks to clients about the importance of showing some flexibility early on in their search for a match.
I’ve found that listening to a client’s concerns and being prepared to find a compromise is often the first step towards developing healthy relationships.