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!

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