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

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5

Strategy Three: Engaging New Clients

Evolving Your Relationships from Contacts to Clients

One of my clients, a partner at a leading management consulting firm, used to visit the North American CEO of a large multinational corporation on a regular basis. One day, as he was leaving his client's office, the CEO's executive assistant stopped him.

“You know,” she said, “You really ought to come more often. He enjoys talking with you.”

“Well,” the partner replied, “I do visit quite regularly. And when I come, I always bring some very good analyses to show him.” He pointed to a PowerPoint deck that he still held in his left hand.

“But your competitors come more often,” The assistant added. “And he does really enjoy your conversations.”

“Well, I see what you're saying,” the partner insisted, “but I think we add a lot of value in these sessions, and we do bring a lot of good ideas to him,” nodding toward his briefcase.

“You don't understand,” the sympathetic but exasperated assistant responded. “He has confessed to me privately that he views those PowerPoint slides as the price he has to pay to have a good conversation with you!”

Indeed, many of us have misplaced notions about what clients really value. In this case, my talented friend did not realize that he possessed an undervalued asset (undervalued by him, that is)—which was his ability to act as an objective sounding board and provide his client with ideas, perspectives, and insights through vibrant, unscripted conversation.

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