On a recent Friday, I had lunch with a consultant I’ve engaged from time to time. As we munched our salads, he gently asked a number of questions:
- How are the changes in the economy affecting your business?
- How are the economic changes affecting your clients?
- What are you most concerned about at this point?
After our aromatic entrees arrived, he said: “The reason I asked you those questions is that I see a basic change happening now and I wanted to hear your view. Sounds like you’re seeing some of the same issues I’m seeing. We spoke a year ago about your objectives for the business and about initiatives A and B. I think NOW is the time to move forward with those, particularly initiative A.”
We spoke for a while about initiative A — why he thought the timing is right, the benefits of moving forward now, what I might do and how, and some of the obstacles I see to moving forward.
As we were wrapping up our financial affairs at the restaurant he said, ” Before we go, I’d like to outline the steps I think you should take over the next two to four weeks. I feel very strongly that you shouldn’t wait any longer. Here are the steps….”
As I drove away, ideas spinning merrily, I felt VERY grateful for his time, for his concern, and for his recommendation about next steps. He cared enough to make a case for his point of view based on my objectives and to take the lead in presenting it.
When we want to position ourselves as valuable resources for our clients, anticipation is important. A point of view is important. Timing is important.
In order to make this work, we need:
- Insight about changes inside or outside of our clients’ businesses that could affect their ability to reach their objectives. (Changes could include changes in interest rates or other economic activity, buying patterns, etc.)
- Clear understanding of our clients’ objectives and methods for reaching the objectives
- A recommendation based on our understanding of how item 1 (changes) could affect item 2 (client’s objectives)
- The discipline to reach our clients with our recommendations BEFORE they call us.