Sometimes your clients know they need to take action but don’t.
Your clients’ intentions are likely good, yet they, like many others in the world of business fall victim to life’s constant busyness.
First, before you kick off the project set the expectations that your client should have of you and that you will have of them.
Consultants often ask me, “Michael, my clients aren’t being responsive. They seem happy with the way things are going, but not much is getting done. And I don’t want to push them too much. What should I do?”
Here’s what I suggest:
First, before you kick off the project set the expectations that your client should have of you and that you will have of them. This will help keep both of you accountable and the project on track.
Next, if you find yourself in the situation where your client isn’t being responsive or taking the action needed to make the consulting project a success, meet them. Do it in person if you can, or on the phone at the least. NOT over email.
Find out what’s going on and why they are not able to take the action originally agreed to when the project started.
Tell your client that you want to make this project work, but to do so; you both need to follow the plan that was initially agreed to.
If your client can’t, than it’s up to you to decide if you can still make the project work. Maybe you can, but with a longer timeline, or maybe you can’t. Either way you need to clearly let your client know and be honest with them.
I was reading a book by author and financial advisor Stephen Wershing the other day and he used the word “Pleasantly Persistent”. I love it. You will need to be persistent and stay on top of all the communications and push your client in the right direction from time to time. The key is that you’re pleasant about that experience.
Every client is different. What’s important is that you have a genuine conversation with your clients and talk about any concern you’re having.
I had one client whose communication deteriorated to sporadic and random emails that never provided that answers I needed nor dealt with the main issues. I sat down with this client and told him I was genuinely concerned and wanted to find out what was going on.
I expressed how this was affecting the project and how I was spending too much time trying to get him to respond and be active. He thanked me for getting him in line and re-focused. Things improved.
Another client displaying similar behavior asked me to push him more because he needed it and because that’s the kind of person he is. He wasn’t going to change anytime soon and so he needed and wanted all the pushing and prodding I could throw at him to make sure the project got done.
Every client is different. What’s important is that you have a genuine conversation with your clients and talk about any concern you’re having. The sooner you deal with it, the faster you can get the project back on course.