Provide More Than They Paid

Always give clients the impression that they got a lot more than they paid for. Make sure you give client's a periodic update on the tasks at hand, what you are doing, and what you are going to be doing. Here are some small tips that can make a huge difference:
  1. Show up earlier than anyone in the office.
  2. Be the last to leave. Get a reputation as the one first in and last out (FILO).
  3. Never play games on the computer - ever.
  4. Never search the Internet - even after hours, look at eBay or type responses to blogs.
  5. If you have to make a personal call, step outside at lunch or on a break.
  6. Be the one who goes over their work three times before turning it in.
  7. Remember spell checker is free! And poor grammar can kill.
  8. Don't be a messenger of bad tidings (all the time).
  9. When asked how things are going, say "Excellent!"
  10. Look and act like the CEO. Dress the part. Dress one step above the person you are reporting to. Act so professional, in speaking and in manner.

Sloughing things off - sometimes - may be rationalized away by you. But in the client's mind, they contribute nothing to their project. The appearance of sloughing off can give the appearance of poor quality and a lack of caring. And seen once goofing off - undermines everything you have been trying to build.

Manage how the client perceives you. When you do a good job of this, they will think they received more than their money's worth. Work hard to be viewed as one who provides a high quality service and that is committed to making clients satisfied. Doing so will indeed make for happy clients. And, happy clients provide repeat business.

Out of Sight, Out of Business

Never ever make the mistake of thinking the relationship will be "good enough" that the client will call you if he or she has a need. Never ever expect the client to do the job you are supposed to do by reconnecting when they have a problem or issue that you can solve.

"Out of sight, out of mind" is the expression we all know too well. But here's my expression for professionals, "Out of sight, out of mind, outta business."

Re-connect with your past clients on a regular basis. Find "reasons" to contact the client every two to three months. Especially just following the conclusion of a completed project. Your reason to this is of course, to ensure that what you have done is still working.

If things are not working the way you or your client wanted them to work, what an ample opportunity to demonstrate your follow through and commitment to the client's success by making a follow-up visit! Be, prepared to "fix" them for the client free of charge if the problem results from the work you performed.

This will demonstrate that you truly have the client's interests in mind, will cement her trust in you and will lead to repeat business almost certainly.

When you do this, the client will become an advocate for you, and in all likelihood, look for ways to repay you with new business or become a great reference for you.

Develop Peer Client Relationships

"Be careful of who you hang around with." This is the warning a parent tells their child. And we all know why.

In the selling of professional services, it's an essential fact that if you are not at the right level in the client's organization, you may find yourself without business, and suddenly competing on price against other professionals that are not up to your level of competence.

If you are at the wrong level, you will find certain people or users of consulting services, or high-end professional solutions feeling threatened by what you offer. They may even look down at you - not because you are a threat, but because they see you as scavengers. (This is of course a defensive mechanism that relates back to a threat).

And you want to avoid this syndrome at all costs.

On the other hand, you do not want clients to see you as one of their employees. Because, then, any advice you provide will not be seen with the same impact or sage-ness.

What you really want is to create a peer relationship based on mutual trust and professional respect. This is done by asking yourself; "Which person in the client's organization stands to gain professionally if this project goes well?" The converse is also true - "What if it fails?" This is the person you want to have the relationship with.

Be careful who you befriend. I know too many consultants, who wanted to have friends at every level, and what wound up happening is that they became too close and the lower level person started to look for chinks in the armor - and of course - he found them. The next thing was the firm had to compete on price and rates . . . which is not where you want to be!

Let Your Clients Know What Other Solutions Your Offer

One of the sorriest days we can have, is when a really loyal client purchases services from another firm, services that you can provide, and have provided successfully. The client just assumed that you didn't provide that type of service.

Far too often, we are viewed by clients as only being able to perform the services we are currently providing. We have become, "pidgeon-holed," or as they say in Hollywood, you've been "type-cast." Make sure your clients know what services you perform and solutions you can offer. You do not want to be pegged as a consultant who does "X" if you are capable of doing "X, Y and Z."

This is particularly important in your work with new clients. Inform them of all of the different services that you can provide. Do it formally or informally. But let them know. Of course, you need to be subtle in presenting your other skills. And, you must not overstate what you can do.

Here are 3 ways to let them know:

  1. One simple technique is have some case studies or whitepapers available to send to the client.
  2. Another technique is talk about a client who had some similar needs and how you went about resolving them.
  3. And finally of course, is ask the client if you can have 10 minutes just to walk through a PowerPoint Deck of your services.

Of course you'd better be ready to explain right away that this is only a 3 to 5 pager deck, and it is not a bunch of words in bullet format. People hear PowerPoint, and they run for the hills. Your deck is only a "table of contents" type of deck and one with diagrams or sample snap-shots of client results.

The point is - make sure your client knows what it is you can do!

No Client Wants To Be Upstaged or Worse - Look Bad

No client wants to be upstaged. Worse, is the fear of looking bad. Every consultant or professional, providing high-level solutions, needs to insure the client he or she will not be embarrassed if they hire you for a project.

This is the number one fear or concern, behind whether you can do the work.

To get around this, you must demonstrate through competence and professionalism, your desire to keep things confidential on all matters - and that if there are issues or problems, these will be addressed privately with the person who has hired you and is ultimately responsible for the outcome you are to produce.

How do you get around, over and through this hurdle I am often asked? First, do what you say you will do. By doing what you say you will do, you build confidence. You demonstrate your ability to get things done and follow up on promises. While not directly related to the hurdle of never exposing the client, it is related to it's core foundational root - that is trust. You are building up trust. This means, if you are to a be at a meeting at 3PM, you are at the meeting at 3PM, not a second after, no matter what happens.

Second, never ever tell tales out of school. This means, never ever tell the current client about another client's problems or issues or incompetence's.

Third, begin by complimenting clients for the things that they do well. Do it often. This helps to reduce this common fear of the consultant or professional will "expose all the weaknesses we have." Everyone has weaknesses and problems. Sometimes an organization is "lucky" to have in place what they have.

Like the old joke of the farmer telling the traveling preacher, "You should have seen the farm when God had it by himself."

When you do find a problem, make an appointment with the person who hired you and your firm. Ask for 10 minutes, provide your finding, explain the risk and how it can be fixed. And move on.

The client will not see you as just a problem-seeker trying to promote further more work.

Be Committed to the Client's Success, Not Yours

If you are committed to the client's success, ultimately, you will be successful.

Your clients must see you as someone who is committed to their success. This means that you must be committed to the business' success - by meeting the goals and objectives of the solution you proposed. It also means making the people who hired you look good.

The best compliment is having the client tell a prospective client say, "I cannot tell whether he works for me or his firm."
When the client see you as an extension of him, you have achieved success.
Focus on the client's interests all the time. Ask yourself; "Is this the best thing for the client?" When the answer is "Yes" - you are on your way to achieving the client's success.

Share Credit With The Client

To insure your success within the client's organization, make sure you share the credit with the client's staff. There is a natural tendency to take credit and say, overtly or subtly, "Look what I did." This is a mistake we all make at some point. We do want our egos massaged, and therefore we want someone to pass on the credit to us. Who doesn't want to feel that they are in some way indispensable or at the very least, appreciated.

You have to remember the big picture however. You have to remember your real purpose is to win business and stay in favor of the client. To do this, you should be willing to share the limelight with the client's staff, not hog it. If you take credit -all the credit - the client's staff will find ways to gun you down.

I am not saying you don't take any credit or at least not be credited as part of the team. This is a fools game. You have to be seen as contributing.

What I am saying is don't take all the credit and find ways to share the credit with others. The clients you work with prefer humble people and are more likely to give you add-on business if you are seen as someone who keeps their "ego-in-check" and is willing to be a member of the team, working behind the scenes, and sharing the credit with others.

Just like you, the client's staff wants to be seen as contributing, and appreciated. We all want some sort of validation of our worth from work. Remember, what you want in terms of ego gratification, so do they. And remember, your real purpose is to win add-on business, not win a plaque that says, "Did it all by himself."

Good Luck! Joe Murphy

Establish Deeper Relationships Within Your Key Accounts

In any account that you value, you must learn to never leave the trust of your business in the hands of just one person with whom you have an established relationship.

When you do this - you are putting your business in jeopardy. Eventually the person with whom you have the relationship leaves, gets reorganized to a position that can no longer help you or simply has no power over a project you are trying to win.

Of course we all do this - that is - work with one person more than we'd care to admit. It is comfortable to build that relationhip and not leave it. It takes courage to try to establish other relationships - it is the courage over the feeling of rejection. We might not be accepted by others and rather than try to address it and over come the initial rejection (all rejection is initial - unless there is a really good reason to keep you at arms length and there rarily is), we make excuses as to why we don't establish other relationships in the client's organization.

A really good reason we fail to establish other relationships is the one that goes along the lines of this: "We will piss off the person with whom we've an established a relationship."

Actually, it sounds good and it is NOT a good reason. It is only a good reason because it has some ring of logic to it. But in reality it is an excuse for fear of rejection as mentioned above.

One reason to fear rejection, is not establishing enough value as to why others would want a relationship. And the ability to golf or tell good jokes is not a way of establishing real value. So you must become creative as to why someone would want to meet with you and trust you.

But I digress as I usually do. And why do I digress? It is because these topic dovetail into other topics and nothing is ever black and white and no subject in selling has clear borders from other subjects.

But the point to this point of view is this; You must permeate the structure of the client's organization so that your relationship runs deeper than with just one person. You want as many people as possible not only be aware of you and the benefits of your services but also to be comfortable with you. You want as many people as possible within the client's organization to think of you when they have a problem you can address.

This is the lesson we should always keep in mind when working with clients.

Stay In Touch - Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One of your chief jobs in selling your services is to figure out how to stay in touch with your clients and your top prospects. The old adage, "Out of sight, out of mind" should be your marketing mantra.

Whether you work for IBM or Accenture, or you are an independent consultant, try to find ways to stay in contact with your clients. For a variety of reasons, usually because we are too busy, or we don't want to "bother" the other person, or we fear rejection, we often fail to practice this simple and critical strategy.

But you MUST overcome these three excuses if you are going to be successful. The bottom line is this: you will not stay in the minds of your clients unless you stay in touch with them on a regular basis. And if you are not in their minds, they will not think of you when they have work that might be done by you.

Here are three actions you can take right now that eliminate fear of being rejected, eliminate the "I'm too busy excuse" and I don't want to "bother" the other person:

1. Send something of value to the person. Send something like a report, a study or an article you feel would be useful for the person. The key word is useful. Substitute useful for educational if you prefer. It should not be marketing or sales related. In other words, it should not be about you!

2. Call them and leave them a message. Say something like, "I was thinking about you the other day, and I just thought I would drop you a line to see how you are doing." You'd be amazed how much people appreciate this. But you have to mean it and you must not ask for anything (like an appointment).

3. Create a newsletter (or monthly update) via email. Take the example from number 1 above. It has to be about them (not you) and it must be educational or something of value. This may take a little effort on your part. And it make take a little creativity. Most of all, it doesn't have to be by you. A couple of examples to make this easy are: take what you have written for a client - redact the client's name and anything that associates the client with the report. Send the prospect or current client some key parts of the report that may be beneficial or may cause the prospective client to think - "I didn't know they did this kind of work" or "I have a similar issue with our HR organization." Or is could be a something personal development related, like this article on Yahoo

All in all here are three ways to stay in touch. Be like the old AT&T commercial and "Reach Out. Reach Out and Touch Someone" To hear the audio track from this well-known commercial in the latter days of the Bell System, click HERE!

Best of luck Joe Murphy

How Your Prospect Decides to Select You (or the Other Guy)

It's a matter of risks and benefits. Always. Whenever a prospect or client has a problem they need to solve, they consciously lay out the risks of the problem versus the benefits of solving the problem. Once the benefits outweigh the costs or the risks become too great, they are compelled to action.They do the same risk versus benefit analysis when hiring a firm (or individual).

Once the prospect decides the problem is too great not be solved, he (or she) turns to their list of firms to see who can most likely solve this problem. The prospect is evaluating a series of risks in their mind – and is hardly ever spoken about. They certainly want a firm that can do away with the problem. But what they don’t say is; “Which firm will most likely achieve the objective and make me look good (smart)?”

You, in your role, must come across as “been there, done that.”

Prospective clients must feel comfortable with your approach and style. Current clients must already be at ease with you and your consulting style for a follow-on project. Some might call this trust in your ability to get the job done. But this is beyond trust in completing the project. It is a lot of trust and faith in how you and your team handle themselves within their organization.

A simple example would be how you conduct yourself when dealing with a tough manager or when something goes wrong. If the prospective client feels that you and your team would handle the situation as they themselves would handle it, then you are more likely to position yourself to win the business.

Your aim should be to develop a trusting relationship where clients see you as an extension of themselves. This is one of the reasons why having a “sales person” win the business and “just go away” does not work in selling complex and strategic projects. It is also one reason why clients may not invest in the relationship. They have learned that the person selling the project may not be the one managing the project or the account.

So cultivate yourself as someone who would act and react like the person you are selling to – as if you are an extension of them. Act as someone who has their best interests in mind.

Continually demonstrate that hiring your firm has less risks (been there, done that) and that your solution and approach can achieve both the benefits of the project and advantages of making him (or her) look good. When you do this with current clients repeat business will almost inevitably follow.

Put Yourself In the Client's Shoes

From the author of Clientize. How to Win Lifelong Clients. Now available on Amazon.

I have a saying when I advise people on getting their point across or trying to persuade someone, "Always put yourself in the client's shoes, to see and feel what they are experiencing."

Think about it for a moment, but from your perspective. How often do you get a phone call or an email or a request that at the moment, just doesn’t fit in with the urgency of things on your plate right now? You know what I mean. You are in the middle of solving some problem for the company, and a colleague comes rushing with a “you have to get the information updated on the HR system right now, because . . .”

Your immediate reaction is “Don’t they know I am swamped” or “This really is a nit, what I am doing right now is much more important?”

Think about this from your client’s point of view. What is going on in their lives right now and what is it that they are trying to deal with, that your proposition just might not fit in? Understand what could possibly be going on in their lives will help you be much more empathetic and tuned to their needs and actually help you solve some of their issues with your proposition.

When discussing your solution or proposition and you put yourself in the client's shoes, you begin to really listen from their vantage point. Too often we as advisers, consultants and professionals fail to listen carefully to the client and miss what they are saying or not saying. By doing this you can understand the client's perception of his or her problem and, in the process, uncover what, if any, risks the client sees in employing a consultant to help solve the problem.

By uncovering the risks, you uncover the “hidden objections” and by doing this, you can address these proactively, and consultatively, and therefore, move forward to closing your transaction.

To order your copy of the landmark book Clientize--the 25-year survey of what professionals do to win clients business for life, click here.
over 400 pages of client survey information on what makes clients buy from certain professionals


Focus On Benefits With Current Clients

When selling a project or solution to a prospective, new client, we remember to point out benefits and advantages. You know how important benefits and advantages are to demonstrating your solution's value to the new prospect. So, if we know the importance of benefits and advantages, why is it that we forget its importance when talking to current clients?

When we talk to clients we tend to forget that clients need to be reminded of the advantages of the services and solutions we provide. We overlook the reasons to buy, and assume the client understands the benefits "automatically" because they already know us and what it is we provide.

But it is just as important to focus on the benefits of the solution with past or current clients as it is with prospective clients. No matter what you are proposing, you should always look for the benefit or advantage to the organization.

Remember that clients are always more interested in the benefits of your services than they are with how your solution works or how it is put together.

Always focus on the benefits of the solution, by looking at the advantages, the "reason why" they should buy now and from you.

Never all the client to guess what the benefits will be.

Don't Hard Sell Your Client For Follow-on Work

When working with a current client, don't make the mistake of "hard selling" the next project when you have not completed the current one. What you should do is stop and think strategically - to decide when and where to bring up the next possible project you have identified.

A good rule of thumb is, clients are more open to discussing future consulting work when you have clearly demonstrated that you can deliver what you have promised, and that you are professional and can be trusted. Be certain that you have met these criteria before pitching the next service.

The best way to do this, is to casually mention an area that might be a problem to the client. State that you have noticed a problem that may be caused by an area you've seen in the past. Float it by, like a trial balloon. Then allow the client to grab or let it go. You may find that your client has no knowledge of the problem or that he has a plan in place to remedy it. Either way, you have not pushed the issue, and you have identified where it stands.

No one ever wants to be sold - they want to buy. This is usually the mistake of people who don't understand the finesse of selling. It's better to indirect, than direct with clients, when selling large or strategic consulting engagements.

Good Luck!

Joe Murphy

Get To Know The Client's Business

Learn about your client's business as much as possible. Learn what is important to the client's business. Know how each the business units operate and how they contribute to the overall goals of the company. Know the company's growth businesses - that is - where the company sees it's revenues coming from over the next 5 years is critical to your getting aligned to the right business units and the right people.

Knowing how the client's business operates, how the decisions get made, and who makes certain decisions is critical. Understand the politics of the organization. Who is getting the funding? What are they getting funding for? While you may have a copy of an organizations chart, you need to understand the invisible organization chart. The invisible organization chart is who goes to whom - outside of the boxes - to gain approval and agreement.

The best way for you to be successful is for you to meet and get to know as many people as possible inside the company. Really listen and look for other consulting service opportunities within the client's enterprise. The best thing for you to hear is that there is a problem and it is costing the company business and/or costs.

Show You Care To Get Repeat Business

Successful consultants, professionals and advisors operate from this credo: "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

This is best demonstrated through your current clients.

Even after you have established a relationship with your client, it is important that you continually reinforce to that client that you do care about them personally and professionally.

The best way to do this, is to look for ways to help them and remind them that you are thinking of them. Call them when you don't need the business. Cut out an article and mail it to them on a subject that they talked about when you last met with them. And of course send them information of value and use, that you created. If you want repeat business, you have to remind them that you are there, willing to help, without stating such.

Asking for business makes you look needy. Offering up help, is subtly different and indirect and yet, far more effective.

You must continually remind previous clients (subtly, of course) that the benefits of using you and your services outweigh the risks and the costs. You can do this, by staying in touch and demonstrating that you care.

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