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#141: When Your Client and You Are on Different Pages

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 28, 2009
Updated: Monday, September 28, 2009
Every once in a while I get out of sync with a client. I feel there is more potential for the organization than they do, and I am fighting to do things in their interest that they just don't want to do. Should I just back off?

This does happen, when a consultant is pushing a client to do the "obvious" thing to improve the client position and the client doesn’t see it or want to pursue it. On the one hand, the client pays the bills and is in charge of deciding what is or is not in the client organization's interest. On the other hand, you were brought in for your independent and objective ideas about how to improve your client's situation.

Parents know that it is problematic when you want more for your child than they want for themselves. How much do you push when you know what is in their best interest and they just don't have the experience to recognize it? With an adult client, however, it is their decision. Your expertise is as an advisor and you can only explain to them that in your experience, course A or B is the best one for them. Once they reflect and reject it, and you feel they understand the decision they are making, you have met your obligation and are done. Time to get in sync with the client and not feel they need to get in sync with you.

Tip: This is often where clients complain about the arrogance of some consultants who barely hide their contempt for a client who "cannot see the obvious." Our job is to lay out the issues and our best advice; the client's job is to make the decision, whether or not you agree with it. Also, if the circumstance occurs that you warned about and that could have been prevented had your advice been heeded, take the high road and stay far away from saying, or even thinking, "I told you so."

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  client service  consultant role  guidance  professionalism 

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Jim Soudriette CMC FIMC says...
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009
It should be pointed out that expressions of what are observed should be shared at the very highest level in the client organization. At the "worker level" where I believe most clients work, is NOT the place to bring up other potentials. It is absolutely mandatory consultants work their way to a first name basis with top people with whom they can share…handled with respect and care, additional business can be obtained and most of the frustration a consultant feels should be quelled.
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