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#517: Sizing Up Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
When starting a new engagement, we often rush to apply our "proven" consulting and analytical processes without considering to what extent the perspectives of our client (or the whole organization) are amenable to such processes.

Recognizing that good results means effective implementation, we tend to think in terms of how our process will be implemented. But we start at a disadvantage if we ignore the client's receptiveness to hearing what we are offering. Each client differs in their ability and attitude to be open to working with a consultant. We would be wise to acknowledge our approach that is so effective with one client may not be so with another.

Consider why these differences might occur. Is your client an analytical type or a "go with the gut" type? Are they approaching change from an offensive (going for potential improvement) or defensive (preventing loss) posture? Are they overwhelmed with day to day details or able to spend time in collaboration? Is their personal life weighing on their ability to focus on company matters? What are the critical factors that could affect how well your consulting services will be received?

Tip: Think back over your consulting engagements over the years and begin to define the types of client you had and how the engagement proceeded. Develop an assessment process to characterize each new client as the engagement starts. Identify what kinds of variations of approach are needed to make sure your service delivery methods are attuned to the attitudes, abilities and personalities of your client. You'll find that attending to who the client manager is will affect your ability to deliver services in a more effective manner.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting process  customer understanding  learning  market research  planning 

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