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#649: Know Your Client Thoroughly Before the First Meeting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011
We all know that first impressions are important and we all do our company research before arriving for a meeting, but what really makes a difference to a prospect for the consultant to stand out?

This is not a simple question to answer. Clients vary widely in technical focus, industry background, personal style and their approach to selecting and retaining consultants. However, all clients are human and, as such, respond favorably to people who are interested in them. Due diligence on your prospective client's company is necessary but how much effort are you making to get to know your prospect personally?

I recall one engagement I won with a biomedical research organization because I read the executive's dissertation, several personal interviews, and past news clippings about their community activities and hobbies. This told me a lot about the type of person they were and how they approached their profession and personal and professional relationships. The prospect, who became a client, cited my effort to understand and use appropriate language, topics of casual conversation and interpersonal style as key factors in my being selected. My interest in them as an individual, on top of my interest in their issues as an executive, indicated to them the way I approached my service to them.

Tip: I recommend being able to answer a prospect who asks: Tell me what you know about me? At a minimum., you should have seen their CV or resume, read whatever articles you can about them, looked at whatever social media presence they have and talked to a few people who know them. The little extra effort can go a long way, especially for somewhat obscure information. For example, they may have a LinkedIn reading list or commented on books on Amazon, both of which give you insights about what makes them unique. This is not just to impress them but to really have a good understanding of how best to work with and serve them.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding 

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