As consultants, we have the opportunity to work closely with clients at all levels and help them solve complex business problems. In this role, we sometimes encounter challenging situations that require a blend of critical thinking, business analysis, and client relationship skills.
Of those three tasks, client engagement management is truly the most complex, because it requires us to be very adept at social skills and there’s no absolute formula for success. That said, we believe there are three key tenets to a successful client engagement:
1. Establish Positive Intent
All too often in relationships that are intended to be collaborative one participant becomes competitive or suspicious, because there is a perception that the other player is focused on their own self-interests. It looks like they are in it to “win” for their side. So, stating your good intent at the start of an engagement will show the other party that success is not necessarily a zero-sum game where someone has to lose for someone to win.
2. Lay a Foundation of Empathy, Trust, and Confidence
While we are a very adaptable species, most of us are creatures of habit that crave predictability. We also like to deal with people who “get us.” By understanding the other person’s motivations and behavioral style, we can adapt our persona to promote an environment conducive for open and honest conversations.
3. Demonstrate Real Value
You might have accomplished the first two steps in tall order, but the ability to articulate, align, and deliver value is the real reward. With that in mind, we need to agree on how value is defined, for whom, and what purpose it serves. It might sound a bit dramatic but this is the moment your worth in the client relationship is weighed and measured.
At LDS we strive to remember that the core of successful client relationships is not that different than the basic elements of enriching personal and family relationships. It comes down to equal parts trust, effective communications, and honesty.