Once you have launched a new client, you inevitably fall into a groove. You have meetings and discussions, and work gets done. You report on results and outline next steps. The interactions are pleasant and as time goes on, you and the client master the art of working together to achieve objectives. However, in the day-to-day don’t miss the opportunity to have conversations that continue to demonstrate your value as a strategic consultant and create deeper relationships with your clients. Below are 5 topics that you can explore with clients, along with tips on how to jumpstart those conversations.
Innovation opportunities. As a consultant, you have a unique vantage point. You work with multiple organizations and may work across several industries. You can help broaden your client’s perspective and present innovative ways to solve problems. A few tips to start the conversation:
- Share an article that presents a new idea or deals with a similar problem
- Share research, even from a different industry
- “A company in XXX industry, had this issue and their approach was XX, could that work here?”
Market intelligence. You keep up with client industries but are you routinely sharing market intelligence? Are there opportunities that they are missing? Are there gaps that they could be covering? Far too often after we win the client we’re not having those conversations as much as in the beginning when we do a formal SWOT analysis. Don’t allow the tactical to diminish your strategic value. Keep demonstrating to clients that you are a counselor and a benefit to their whole business. Questions you can ask:
- “Companies are doing XX but no one is doing XXX…”
- “More people are reading/doing XXX, we can capitalize on it by doing XXX…”
Internal processes. Having a conversation about internal processes can give you important clues into the things that could help or hinder the work that you do for your client. It can also open up opportunities for additional ways that you can be a resource. What are their operational priorities? What are the challenges that they need to address in order to meet their goals? Understanding the bigger picture can help you to be more effective in your role. Questions to ask:
- “Are there any internal processes that you feel are not working well?”
- “Is there anything that could hinder hitting the goals you set?”
Budget. We have conversations with clients about our budget, but it is important to stay plugged in to their overall budget. What are their profit goals and how is PR contributing? Are there budget constraints in other areas? Financial discussions help you to keep focused on the bottom line and be in true partnership with your client. Kick off discussions with questions such as:
- “What are the sales goals this quarter/year?”
- “Will there be any major investments this year in operations, infrastructure?”
Career goals. Your clients are working in organizations and have their own career goals. Understanding what they want to personally achieve can allow you to align with their motivations and be proactive about how you craft and present strategies. You can probe a little deeper with these questions:
- “What would you consider a personal win this quarter/year?”
- “What other things can we do to align with your strategy for your department/organization?”
Having these conversations with clients, will present opportunities to remind clients of your value and the services you offer. You will also gather information that helps you to be more effective in serving their needs.
How do you create deeper relationships with clients? Share in the comments or on social media using #solopr.