Last week, I was invited to participate in a Consulting Advisory Group. Attending with me were representatives from large national consulting firms, and smaller “boutique” firms, like Butler Street. The group was assembled to discuss talent development needs and opportunities for the consulting and consulting related industry.
Among the various topics of discussion, I wanted to share one that is critically important in preparing talent not only for this industry, but for any client-facing opportunity.
What does ‘client ready’ mean?
We can all come up with our own definition of ‘client ready’, but I ran across one from a LinkedIn post from Jim Anderson:
“Just what does ‘client ready’ mean? It means that your work is polished, with your ‘i’s dotted and your ‘t’s crossed. It means writing that has been well thought out, wordsmithed, rewritten, revised, proofed, and prepped for the customer. For video, it means more than an assembly edit. It means that you are sending work that has been edited, colored, sound sweetened, and generally represents your finest work.”
Key words: polished; well thought out; proofed and prepped; your finest work. I think you get the point.
So, what does it take to be client ready?
6 Important Steps
1. Approach each new opportunity and/or interaction with humility
Show a genuine respect and appreciation by demonstrating your willingness to learn and understand.
2. Interpersonal skills, building trust
Be prepared to interact with people at all levels. Trust is built one interaction at a time. Always be honest. Show people you care about them. MAKE FRIENDS!
3. Emotional Intelligence
Recognize your own emotions and those of the people you are working with. Think about EQ in four ways: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Developing these skills will strengthen your positioning and help you achieve your goals.
4. Soft Skills
Defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” This could be a long list, but here are a few “must haves”:
Verbal and Written Communication
Critical and Logical Thinking
5. Asking effective questions
Remember that you are in a problem-solving situation. Your questions should be crafted to get the facts; to gain insight; to help your client recognize the depth of the issue; and to validate your proposed solution. Also, your consultative approach reveals that initially the answer is not important, it is the process that you go through, asking what do I know/not know, what is the story, how do you present it.
6. Meet client where they are
At Butler Street, we refer to this as working in the Customers Operating Reality: “Being able to see problems and opportunities as they appear through the client’s eyes.” Your discussion, your actions and your solutions are formulated to:
Solve your client’s current problems
Prevent your client’s future problems
Increase your client’s efficiency
Increase your client’s productivity
Reduce your client’s day-to-day friction
Meeting your client’s deadlines
Maintain your client’s sense of well being
Other developmental opportunities include: knowing how to use your applied experience; learning from your failures; how you add value to your team; managing stress/deadlines and last, but perhaps most important, understanding what it means to have a service mentality and how to apply that service approach to exceeding your client and personal goals.
Are you client ready?
We can help. Butler Street’s talent and client development time-tested experience, tools and methodologies are geared specifically to make you and your client-facing teams READY.