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All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships by Andrew Sobel

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3

Strategy One: Becoming an Agenda Setter

Understanding and Shaping Your Client's Most Critical Priorities

After six months of unsuccessful attempts, the senior business development team at a large technology services company finally procured a meeting with a high-potential customer: the chief executive of a major telecommunications provider. Four executives from the technology services firm went to the meeting with the CEO. They had prepared carefully—or so they thought—and had developed a well-honed presentation on how they could provide a mission-critical, state-of-the-art system to the CEO's company. They traveled from three different countries to attend the meeting.

Fifteen minutes into the discussion, however, the CEO appeared unengaged and distracted. His knee rocked from side to side, and he peered at his Blackberry. He finally glanced at his watch, and then abruptly interrupted the presentation. “Look, it's been very nice meeting you, but I've got an urgent appointment and I have to leave.” He thanked his guests and left them, speechless and forlorn, in the meeting room. His assistant led them out.

One of the executives later confessed to me that they had discovered, a few days after the meeting, a video of the CEO on a financial news web site. It had been filmed only a week before their meeting, and in it, the CEO had laid out a new set of strategic priorities for his organization. These focused on things like value-added services, customer retention, and improved responsiveness ...

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