Every interaction you have with new consulting clients is crucial. From the first handshake and greeting until the last goodbye, everything you do will be observed and filed away in a future reference box. Client communication is something you really need to become a master of.
This is a list of items that clients look for when working with new consultants:
- That first impression never goes away. Be professionally friendly and offer a genuine handshake. Look and act your role. You are not an employee of the company so never act like one.
- Every new client wants reassurance that you can cut the mustard. Your abilities to offer constructive commentary when there is panic in the air will separate you from the masses.
- Arrive at every meeting with a purpose and always be prepared. Once you drop the whip, it is hard to get control and re-take the lead. Stay in front of the pace by knowing current company developments as they happen.
- Open the lines of communication with substantive material that sets the tone for each meeting. Stay on message. Beginning sessions meaningfully sets a good tone for each meeting.
- You must never let the client question your ability to make them your top priority. Clients want your undivided attention. These clients are concerned that you services will be spread too thin.
- Clients want to know that your consulting firm will not interfere with their business operations. Provide regular progress reports and schedule regular meetings to discuss concerns and issues.
- Clients worry that the actual consultants will not be the representatives that structured the working agreement. You must make sure all project consultants and their areas of expertise are known to the decision makers.
- Staying within the budget is a major client concern. If complications arise that jeopardize the budget, deal with them immediately. In advance, explain your internal budget controls to a new client and give them confidence in your system.
- Understanding that you will have access to proprietary client information will allow you to understand an area of concern for all new projects. Make sure your clients know that you respect their privacy and will not discuss company activity or policies with any outside sources. Clients do not hire consultants they do not trust.
Clients will ask other questions. Your consulting firm’s representatives should only answer questions in their area of expertise and should be trained to refer questions beyond their scope of work to the appropriate consultant. Stress to these co-workers the importance of starting and finishing with energy.