As a consultant you want your clients to call upon you. To see you as their trusted resource and advisor. Yet here we are, in a day and age where there is more competition, more options, more distractions all reaching to get a piece of our clients’ attention.
What can you do about this?
1) Create more value for clients and
2) Become irreplaceable.
In this article I’m going to share with you eight steps you can take to become and then remain the top resource and advisor to your clients.
The best way to understand clients better is to ask them deep and meaningful questions and let them talk. Truly listen to their responses.
1. Understand Them Better
How close are you listening? Are you really taking the time necessary to validate your thoughts about your clients? As consultants we often think we know what our clients want, what they are thinking, and so on.
Often, however, this isn’t the case. The best way to understand clients better is to ask them deep and meaningful questions and let them talk. Truly listen to their responses.
When we do this with enough clients we start to see what common threads our clients share. And what unique characteristics, wants and desires they each have. This is all valuable information that helps us to serve our clients better and become irreplaceable.
2. Serve Them Better
When you create mindset of serving your clients you’ll always have their interests in mind. This is a critical shift to make in your thinking.
Client relationships aren’t about a transaction, they are about serving, helping, and benefiting our client in all ways possible.
That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when you know what they are working towards you can help them and support them to achieve that goal.
When you take this to heart and embrace it your interactions and actions with clients will change. You’ll be more focused on them and their needs. You’ll want to support them at a deeper level and find yourself becoming more committed to them.
Clients sense this shift. They see the change and they appreciate it.
3. Provide Better Experiences
Every business has great opportunity to provide its customers with more memorable experiences. What are you doing to create those unforgettable experiences?
This can be as simple as sending a hand-written card or a box of chocolates. It might mean you send them a hat or jersey of their favorite sports team. Or take them out to a show or a unique restaurant.
The more relevant content you put out the more your client will see you as the expert. You will maintain that top of mind position.
The list is endless. Any experience that is different, that your client likely won’t expect, yet will truly treasure and enjoy is an opportunity.
Another area experiences apply is in your communications. Do you respond quickly? Do you follow through on your word and do exactly what you say you are going to do? Because so many people don’t, it can become your advantage when you do.
4. Help Them Achieve Their Goals
When you understand your client you can support them in many ways. If they want a promotion within their organization, you now aware of that, can look for ways to help them achieve that.
If they are keen to learn a new language, you can find opportunities for them to speak that language. If they want to learn a new skill, you can provide them resources that assist them.
Their goal may be on the business or personal side. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when you know what they are working towards you can help them and support them to achieve that goal.
5. Create Resources For Them
To establish and then continue to position yourself as the authority and expert in your area you can create resources that your clients will value.
This can include blog posts, whitepapers, videos, audio interviews, guides, e-books, printed books, online training, and the list goes on.
The more relevant content you put out the more your client will see you as the expert. You will maintain that top of mind position. Not only does that benefit you with your client, it also creates additional opportunities for your client to refer you more business – because they are often thinking about you.
6. Curate News and Content
Another great way to keep that top of mind positioning is to be a source of news and content. Every time you find a news story, article or piece of content that you believe your clients will value (or find interesting) send it to them.
This does two things:
1) It shows your client that you are staying at the forefront. You are always a step ahead of them and your competitors. This reinforces that you are the expert.
2) Clients appreciate that you’re thinking of them. That you’re taking the time to send those resources that they otherwise may have missed. It shows you care about them. They notice that.
7. Make the Relationship Personal
There’s a lot of ‘common’ advice out there with all kinds of reasons as to why you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with a ‘business’ client.
I believe that thinking is immature and flawed. As consultants we’re in the relationship business. Buyers do business with people they like.
I’m not talking about sleeping at your client’s house or sharing your most dramatic high-school stories. What I’m suggesting is that you look for opportunities to spend quality time with your clients outside of the boardroom.
Go for a walk with them. Drive them to their next meeting. Enjoy a lunch together. Even accompany them to see their kid’s baseball game.
The reason this works so well is because most people have their guard up when they are in a formal business setting. They feel as if they have to be ‘corporate’ or ‘serious’. The moment you take them out of that environment, into a more personal and comfortable one, they relax.
They open up and share.
I remember from my many years of doing business in Japan, this is where alcohol comes into play. To build relationships with clients or even within your own office, people go for drinks after work.
With a beer or two in the belly people unwind. They open up and conversations start to flow.
Note: Alcohol is not required 🙂 But looking for ways to make the relationship more personal will serve you well.
8. Challenge Their Thinking
One of the greatest ways you can serve your clients is to challenge them. Encourage them to take actions they usually wouldn’t. Stretch their thinking to consider new opportunities they currently aren’t brave enough to explore.
One sign of a great coach and consultant is that they believe in and see potential in their client before the client has realized it themselves.
Most clients don’t want another YES person around them. They have enough staff and friends that will just say YES to them all the time.
Clients want you for your expertise. Not because you’re going to agree with them all the time.
So challenge them. Disagree with them. Guide them. Support them. Serve them at the highest levels so that they not only see your value and potential, but also their own.
Want More Clients?
So know you know how to add more value to your existing clients and maintain your position as an authority in their eyes. The next question is, would you like to attract more clients? To have a system and process that allows you to have deep meaningful conversations with buyers of consulting services on a consistent basis? If your answer is yes, check this out now