The Hidden Value Behind a Client-Consultant Relationship
It wasn’t until leaving Big 4 consulting for an international start-up that I truly understood what was meant by managing a Client-Consultant Relationship. Understanding meant changing my mindset because relationships are not process oriented. Relationships are two-way personal affairs based on trust and creditability with both parties giving and taking. Understanding requires clarity as to the “value” each receive by nurturing a relationship — value beyond a client satisfied with the results and a consultant receiving a “paycheck.”
This blog doesn’t discuss how to nurture relationships. Rather it discusses the value, value beyond getting paid, that many consultants leave on the table because they don’t nurture a relationship. Here are six commonly left behind values.
Referrals: Referrals are introductions to people interested in what you have to offer or people who able to assist you with some aspect of your business. Because clients are busy with their own daily tasks, many never think about referring a consultant. However, when asked they are more than willing to connect a consultant by jointly meeting, phoning the contact, or sending an email. Occasionally, clients struggle with the introduction because they’re unsure of the message to convey. Consider providing a written script as a framework to help them help you.
By the way, don’t wait until the end of an engagement to ask for introductions. Use your judgement and ask when appropriate.
Testimonials: Testimonials are short. They consist of 3 to 5 short sentences aimed at grabbing a person’s attention with a highlighted result and benefit. I love it when a client volunteers to write a testimonial, but that doesn’t always happen. Frequently, the consultant needs to ask for the testimonial. If the client agrees to providing a testimonial, volunteer to write it, making life easier for your client plus it is a way for you to thank them for their kindness.
Check Out Testimonial Article on Medium
Case Studies: Case studies are a fabulous way to highlight you as well as your client. Ask your client if they are open to working with you by writing or videoing a case study. A case study can be as long or short as necessary; however, I like short case studies because they are quickly read or watched. My preferred approach is to divide the case study into three sections: problem or opportunity, the effort, and result and benefit. A quote by the client adds creditability to a case study. It should go without saying, but ensure the client is comfortable with the case study before it is published and seen by the world.
References: References are a step above testimonials and case studies. Periodically a prospective client wants to discuss with someone their experience working with you. Have a few clients who are open to talking to others about you, your service, and the quality of your work. My reference warning — it is easy to burn out clients with reference conversations. Make sure you have a stable of references and be prudent when providing their names.
Add on Work: Add on work is the result of not only a need but a client and consultant getting to know one another. The more a client knows about you, the more they trust you and understand how you might be able to help them. When need arises, you’ve positioned yourself to be front of mind, the go-to person.
Referrals for Others: Referrals again, but this time for other people. You’ve built a trusted relationship with your client and are known as the go-to person for your focus. The client feels comfortable talking with you and asking your advice. Every so often, a client might ask for a connect to someone that can assist them in an area that is not your expertise. This request enables you to not only help your client with a referral but someone a third party, another consultant. The client as well as the referral will remember your willingness to help them.
Referrals, testimonials, references, case studies, add-on work, and referrals for others are six ways to help you expand and grow your business. All are the result of not only delivering on what you promised but your ability to build meaningful Client-Consultant Relationships. You never know where a relationship will take you nor the value you can achieve because of that relationship.
When the shoe is on the other foot and you become the client, help your consultant build a relationship with you. Ask them how you might be able to help them. Do they need an introduction to someone? Would a testimonial or case study be helpful? Or just someone to have a conversation with over lunch?
Hi, I’m Laura (Dallas) Burford. I help independent business professionals (consultants, contractors, freelancers, service-based professionals) and boutique consulting businesses get clients and make money.
What I do: I partner with professionals and businesses on clarifying their focus and then work with them to get clients that they want to work with so that they make money and grow their businesses.
How I do: I leverage a simple and flexible framework known as The Consultancy Model©. For those new, stalled, or reentering the consulting world I have a signature program known as Consulting JUMPSTART Blueprint©.
Why I do what I do: I want to see people to succeed and not fail. Sometimes all that is needed is an extra hand.
Check out the Free Resources page on Laura’s Consulting Guide for free consulting resources.