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#212: We Tried That Already

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, January 05, 2010
In tight times, many clients understandably can get risk averse. They don’t want to make a mistake, throw good money after bad or try something they don't think will work. How can a consultant help them through this?

We've all been there. We can get frustrated when we recommend something and the client say "We've tried that..." with the implication that it didn't work, they didn't like the results, or that your recommendation, or even you, are not to be trusted. In reality, when someone says they tried something before, the situation or their capabilities are not the same as they face now. Here's one way to deal with this:
  1. Let the client know that you have specific experience with the basis of this recommendation and it has worked well elsewhere.
  2. Ask to see the specifics of the previous attempt at implementation. You'll often see that either a) it was not the same circumstances, or b) the results weren't what they thought (not interpreted/represented accurately).
  3. Keep cool. Be truthful. Be thoughtful. Be sure you have solid logic to directly address the perceived risks of your client. Don’t let your pride or ego outweigh your objectivity and independence. Always consider that you might be understating the risks.
Tip: Investigate what really happened "before" and then use that to either make your point clearly, or accept the client's statement. More likely than not, if your recommendation is well thought out, the questioning process will support your position. And if not, you will at least see why your recommendation will not work in this specific situation and help the client understand that. It's their call but your job is to reach a solution that gives them their best opportunity but to be real about the risks.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  consultant role  customer understanding  recommendations  reputation  sales 

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