Let’s jump in with a big question for client facing professionals working in Professional Services Firms.
How would you assess the quality of your client conversations?
Think about the last time you sat down with a client of yours? How did the conversation go? How useful and effective was it? Did it help to cement or build your client relationship?
Score it out of 10 (from poor to fantastic) OK?
Let’s add a bit of context. Most client professionals we work with and talk to spend most (and some, all) of their time with clients discussing ‘the matter in hand’. Many of you may have given a score of 7 or 8 above because the conversation in mind may have led to you clearly scoping out, making progress on, or finalising, a specific engagement or project.
Let’s add in a few more things to think about.
Has this affected your score?
We have developed a simple model which helps to explain our train of thought. This ‘Developing deeper interactions’ graphic below shows both the client and the adviser perspective.
When the client meets with an Adviser, the common area of open discussion, as already mentioned above, is the engagement or service offering – the top-left box. These can be positive and important conversations, after all the client is paying for the professional to deliver the service and we would be confident that most would be able to demonstrate their experience and knowledge clearly, and that the client will recognise that expertise.
Usually that means that the client sees you as a trusted and high quality ‘technical service provider’.
When we work with professionals on our Developing Adviser programmes we talk a lot about having the confidence to have ‘wider and deeper’ client conversations. Great advisers are curious to learn, to contextualise, to see the world as their clients see it. This means going into key business (and personal) areas with a burning desire to truly understand their issues, challenges, frustrations, opportunities, emotions and needs. We summarised a few of the critical business factors facing SMEs in our recent article. This is top-right box activity.
Many fear treading here as they may be exposed, they may not have all the answers, they don’t know which questions to ask… and it’s just not ‘me’.
Just starting by asking one or two questions about strategy, the current marketing activity, people issues or market pressures can lead to a valuable, and very different conversation. It can also start to change the client’s perception of you – as a contact who is genuinely interested in their business, who asks intelligent questions and demonstrates business acumen.
This is taking you into the bottom-left box. Providing an opportunity to demonstrate your real expertise as an adviser, and possibly your firm’s real expertise is providing a whole range of high quality solutions.
Most professionals keep so much ‘hidden’ from clients. If your clients knew everything about you (and the firm’s) experience, sector mastery, success stories they would be very willing to share more about their needs.
And who knows, going deeper into these conversations and interactions may take you into the MYSTERY box – the bottom-left. This means partnering together to create mutually beneficial activities and could mean the ultimate in client value, service and relationships.
Maybe now is a good time to reassess the quality of your client conversations!
Please get in touch with Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can help you and your teams to transition into client advisers and build deeper and more valuable client relationships.
theGrogroup are experts in advising organisations on how best to improve performance by effectively executing and embedding required change. We do this through our proven framework; clarifying strategy and change needs, enabling people through skills, behaviours and mind-set development and creating the systems, processes and infrastructure to lock in change as the new normal.