Making Learning on The Client’s Dime Ethical

It’s probably happened to you: your client asks you for something you don’t currently know how to do. How do you respond in a way that’s fair to both parties?

Jonathan and I got this question from a listener and decided to answer it from both the buyer and seller viewpoints:

How do you/they disclose that there will be real-time training happening?

Your role as the buyer when your seller isn’t coming to you with full disclosure and pricing options.

Assessing the impact on your authority when you tell your client you’re not an expert (and the surprisingly positive view most buyers will take).

How not to fall into the employee mindset trap—and what to do instead.

Using new challenges as a way to move up the food chain with your clients.


“Should you always warn the client that you don’t have experience in something they’ve asked you to do? My answer to that is yes. Why wouldn’t you?”—JS

“When you’re on the buyer’s side…asking those pricing and cost questions up-front—even if your person isn’t bringing them forward—makes the working relationship so much better.”—RM

“It might be an opportunity for you to learn on the job, but you should give them some kind of picture of how long you think it would take so they can at least have an estimated price.”—JS

“When I heard ‘I worked those hours and you owe me’ that told me their mindset was an employee mindset versus a business owner mindset.”—RM

“Just never accept, ‘I have no idea’ as an answer. Even if they genuinely don’t know, it could be—I could die still working on this, or it could take me 10 minutes.”—JS

“We want to be business owners, perhaps partners in what they’re doing. We don’t want to be a vendor and we don’t want to be an employee.”—RM

“If you are a commando type and…you are the person that they call when they don’t know who to call…you can be dropped behind enemy lines and come away with a win.”—JS

“When you don’t know something, that’s your opportunity to move up the food chain.”—RM

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