1) You can start to build a partnership with clients the first time you meet them—and you can build it up or tear it down at every meeting thereafter.
2) Along with delivering great work, your objective on any project should be to build a partnership with your clients.
3) Stop blaming your clients for their behavior, and start changing how you interact with them.
4) The goal is to move to a partnership with your client, so that you are providing lasting value and the customer commits to a long-term relationship.
5) It’s great to be the expert and have all the answers, but your expertise isn’t worth much if your clients aren’t fully bought-in to your perspective.
6) Too many consultants and sales people are guilty of giving a great solution to a problem they never really understood.
7) The truth is that clients, like all of us, live in the world of interpretation, not facts. It’s up to you to understand how they interpret their world.
8) Client interpretations—fears, needs, beliefs and values—can put them in a box so they can’t see a way out. It’s up to you to help them out of the box, and to show them a simple path to get what they want.
9) When clients are “in the box” and resisting your point of view listen with curiosity, and accept all of their interpretations without judgment, whether they’re genuinely true or not.
10) Completely understand your client’s issues before you launch into providing them with solutions and ideas.
11) You will have the greatest leverage with clients when you can move them to the most strategic level of business needs they are comfortable discussing.
12) The secret to dealing with client resistance is to first meet clients “where they are” before you move them “where you want them to be”.
13) Set it up so it’s always the client’s choice. However, you can help clients make an informed decision by showing them real benefits or consequences that will arise given the direction they are considering.
14) You don’t need to manipulate clients or push them around. A true partner knows how to keep a difficult conversation alive and stop clients from “picking up their ball and going home”.
15) Your objective is to “fight on the same side”, so you turn every client conflict into a problem-solving conversation.
16) “Being right” is often the booby prize. Do you want to be right? Or, do you want to get results.
17) The higher the risk involved the more important it is for you to communicate with clients in-person.
18) The key to stopping scope creep is to firmly state that you are unable to do what the client wants, AND you are committed to resolve an issue with them and to look for trade-offs together.
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Authored For S3 Solutions by Marty Friedman
Marty Friedman is one of the architects of the “Power of Partnership”, a training course for consultants and solution sales professionals who want to sell bigger deals and have smoother projects. He has co-presented this training for clients such as HP, Accenture, and Bell Canada as well as many mid-sized companies and start-ups. Find out more at www.PowerofPartnership.net