The #1 reason client relationships tank is you’re often not on the same page. Typically, goals and expectations are not clearly defined at the outset. When the deal is signed, you’re often so excited – this key conversation is often missed. You’re motivated to get the ball rolling with the momentum of the launch, but you haven’t taken the time to clearly delineate what you or the client specifically expect out of the deal.
Three years – that’s how long it took for me to realize the importance of discussing and documenting mutual expectations during a launch meeting (In fact, this component is now a big part of our sales process). Project goals and expectations are an agenda item with everyone at the table. When I launched the company, I felt so damn fortunate to have a customer, I thought I could make everyone happy just be sheer hard work, passion and energy. But I learned that just isn’t enough. More thoughtful planning and goal setting is important to a successful engagement.
I also learned, it’s difficult to conduct any project without full collaboration between both parties. For success, consistent communication between consultant and client is required. “What’s the status?” “What’s the direction and strategy?” “What’s working and what isn’t?” Weekly exchanges are essential. A winning partnership requires a team effort – we’re all pulling on the same rope, right? Let’s act like it.
Additionally, I have found it absolutely critical to talk about values. Our company values – collaboration, integrity and dedication are key to every relationship, including those with clients. I like to stress those values in the launch meeting too. And, if we aren’t exhibiting those values, I want to know about it. If the client isn’t, I’ll let you know about it.
Isn’t that fair?
The underlying theme is transparency, goal setting and open communication. If those are in place, you’re off to a great start.