Are You a Valued Business Counselor?
Do your clients consider you an adviser, someone on whom they rely for thoughtful, objective counsel and guidance? Roget’s Thesaurus and Webster define counselor as an adviser, guide, mentor, teacher or consultant. In practice, that means that the valued business counselor:
- Establishes realistic expectations with clients from the outset of an engagement. Ensures that expectations are met and hopefully exceeded by asking the client for feedback.
- Explains services and capabilities in a manner that relates them to the client’s business issues, problems and goals.
- Develops a solid understanding of:
- The client’s business and industry.
- The client’s goals, objectives and desired business results.
- The client’s business strengths and weaknesses.
- Critical business issues and challenges the client is facing.
- The client’s major problem areas and barriers to success.
- The business implications of these problems and barriers.
- Habitually maintains a client-centered focus.
- Periodically seeks client feedback either formally or informally. Is careful not to assume to know what the client thinks, wants or needs.
- Proactively identifies barriers to achieving desired end results. Tries to anticipate issues that could become problems.
- Includes the expertise of others in the firm to assist with client issues. Makes clients aware of all the services the firm offers that may apply to their situation.
- Readily recommends other resources to address the client’s business issues (e.g., CPA’s, consultants, financial advisers, other business professionals; books, articles, seminars, etc.).
- Expresses a strong desire and commitment to work with clients to achieve desired business results. Demonstrates an attitude of, “Your success is our success.”
- Cites articles and examples of other companies dealing with similar issues.
- Continually expands their general business knowledge outside their area of specialty and outside the practice of law.
- Treats clients with the same integrity and respect they would like to receive. Works to develop strong, lasting relationships with clients.
- Introduces clients to their professional contacts in the community to help them expand their network.
- Expresses appreciation for the opportunity to work with clients.
- Ensures that the firm benefits from client relationships.
- Understands the client’s concept of value and periodically asks questions to ensure overall satisfaction.
- Draws on resources such as the Client Value Equation (below) to learn what’s important to clients.
Value = Results Produced for the Client + Service Quality / Price to the Client + Costs of Acquiring the Service *
* The Service Profit Chain, Heskett, Sasser, Schlesinger, Harvard Business School