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#73: How to Get Your Clients to Call You a Second Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I have had some great clients that offer glowing referrals but rarely call for more services. One could read several things into this - either these clients got such great service that they just don't need my services again or something worse. How can I tell?

It is usually dangerous to try to ascribe motivations to others without at least some confirming information. When the opinions or conclusions you seek are related to your skills, abilities and services, this conflicts with your objectivity. It will be hard to ever know whether you are truly valued or not by your clients unless you have established a trust relationship with them. Only then can you talk openly about what your client's expectations and how well you have previously or can in the future meet them.

Some types of services are just one-time opportunities, so the lack of follow up does not mean your services were not appreciated. Be realistic about why you may or may not get a second call. The client may need a series of services, of which yours is only one. You can be of as much value by providing the right referrals to the right services (other than yourself) at the right times. This is why having a strong network of other consultants you know well is so important. Clients will remember you when you get them the expertise they need, even if it is not you.

Tip: Knowing if you are valued enough for follow-on work begins by setting clear expectations at the outset of the relationship. Talk about your desire to provide, if appropriate, services over the long-term and explore how/whether you might be able to do this based on your developing understanding of the client and his/her situation. Ask to be able to check in occasionally after your first engagement is compete. However, do this on the basis of having something of value to offer, not just asking "hey, got anything else for me to do for you?" Keeping up with emerging client needs will give you a stream of ideas that will increase the likelihood that you will get that second call.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  referrals 

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