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#641: Your "First Date" With Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 29, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 29, 2011
Although I have been consulting for a few years, it is always hard to know how much to press on the first meeting with a client. Some clients take a "full speed ahead" approach and others a "go slow" approach. For my part as a consultant, is one approach better than another?

How fast a client goes on the initial meeting is up to the client. However, a consultant can create a bad impression by not being in sync with the client. Go too fast and you make the client uncomfortable. Go too slow and you risk perhaps letting the client believe you can't keep up.

Part of your job as a consultant is to feel out how comfortable clients are. You need to anticipate how much they trust you, their sense of urgency about addressing the issue they asked you to tackle, and their general pace of work. Remember, some executives feel, whether they admit it or not, like they are ceding power to a consultant for a job they were hired to do. You can help them go as fast as they can by not pushing them faster than they are willing to go.

Tip: Treat the first meeting like a first date. Think ahead of where the meeting could go if the client is open or guarded. Have a plan to deal with both. Talk to your client specifically about the pace of how he or she wants to proceed and let them know you can accommodate their speed. Don't ignore this topic and just hope everything will work out.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting process  customer understanding  learning 

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