Whether you're a sustainability professional, an energy engineer or any type of consultant, your clients are always top of mind, aren't they? Of course! But then again it's very easy to get involved in a project and be so consumed in it that you forget about the client's needs. Ok, you don't forget about them totally because you are working for them, trying to hit their deadlines etc. But while you are working away, do you spare the time to think what they need, want or would help them at this point in the project? Or what might help you in the future with regard to your client as the work progresses?
Not surprisingly, working occupies the majority of the time when you’re a consultant, or at least it should. How you interact with and communicate with your clients during projects is every bit as critical as the report you deliver, your final presentation, or the selling process that led you to the project. It’s your opportunity to develop a great relationship that can serve you for years to come. There are some key things to be aware of as you work on a project, aside from the work itself.
Consider this person we’re calling the client. What’s he or she doing for you (we'll decide on she), and what do you want from her?
So she’s important. Okay, you knew that, didn’t you? But (soul searching time here) do you sometimes lose sight of that fact when you're buried in a project? I confess that I have from time to time.
Let’s say you have a project with a deadline in six weeks. You know how to do it, you know what to do, and you can go away and do it. Do you know anything else?
All of these questions are critical to your understanding of the project and your client. Knowing the answers can make the difference between your client perceiving you as just another consultant who did an okay job, or someone she really feels good about and would hire again in a heartbeat.
In my experience, some consultants never consider any of this. They’ve got the job, and they go away and do it. They don’t understand the background or rationale for the project. They don’t communicate enough with the client. Just suppose your client’s boss asks her how the project is going and if she’s certain they’re going to have the deliverables on time. If she hasn’t heard from you in four weeks, she isn’t going to be able to answer that question.
If you want more work out of your client; if you want some referrals or to use her as a reference; if you want to become her go-to consultant, you have to look beyond the basics. In fact, the extra time and effort to do this and to communicate regularly is minimal. So there’s no excuse for not doing it, particularly when you consider the potential rewards it can bring. After all, we'd all like to get the next project as well, wouldn't we?
As always, any thoughts and comments greatly appreciated.
As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses. Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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