Today’s blog post is about a professional practice issue, “Delivering a Professional Product to Your Client.”
Why? I’m visiting another school on Monday, and have been asked to speak on this topic to an undergraduate accounting class. Successful academics always write down everything they do and seek to generate a publication out of it.
I verified my ideas by checking with former students now out in the business world. They are an integral part of my LinkedIn network. Their responses centered around these issues:
- Branding and networking are key, and help form the basis for the client’s expectations.
- Communicating with the client so as to completely understand the problem
- Create value
- Neat, orderly package with good presentation
- Stay in touch with your client for necessary follow-up
Branding and networking
You need to have a very good reputation – because most of the leads come though recommendations from other happy clients and not through traditional marketing. … Happy CEOs tell their friends that we did successful projects for them and those friends invite us for discussions when they have some problems.
Networking is key – you don’t have to wait until the friends of your former clients come to you, you have to contact them directly to have meetings with them, to tell them what you can do for them and how beneficial it would be for them.
Communicating with the client to understand problem
In order to sell a product or service that deals with a client’s problem, having a complete and thorough understanding of that problem is essential. And that can’t be acquired without communicating with the client. An older car of mine years ago had an electrical problem that kept shutting off the engine. I paid, $400, $600, and $500 on a series repairs that had no impact on solving the problem. Eventually, I took it to a mechanic that did a good job of explaining why the others had it wrong, and why he would be able to solve the problem. I hired him. $150 later, I had my car back and it ran perfectly.
Steve S. says, “Listen. Understand the needs and expectations.”
Rajju B. says,
I think it all depends upon client needs. First step will analyzing the client needs through research and interviews. Then compare and contrast your product with client needs and try to address any gaps. Then present your product t the client and address alternatives for the gaps.
Tara W. says, “You need to be confident in your product and in any conversations surrounding and leading up to the end product and your client will perceive you as confident.”
Joey W. says, “After the sale has been made, I try to keep the client updated and answer any questions in a timely manner.”
Skyle L. says,
The communication to the client needs to be tailored to their needs, wants and desires. It has to show the features of the product, the advantages of it, as well as how these will benefit the customer.
Presenting a product properly starts with gaining a full understanding of what, how and why your customer wants/needs the product.
It seems obvious, but sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle. You not only want to restore a client to where it should be, you want to improve its situation beyond where it was to begin with. Tara W. says,
The biggest thing I have come across is that you want your end product to be of value to your client. And really that is a perceived value. I mean really a tax return, although valuable and necessary, often does not hold a lot of perceived value to a client-it is more a necessity. So you need to show your client the value. Meaning-client A I did X Y and Z and that saved your $10,000 in taxes, etc.
One of the partners at my firm often likes to remind me that perception is reality. There is a lot of truth to that.
Neat, orderly package with good presentation
It isn’t all about content. Your project won’t be valued at whatever you are charging if it doesn’t look great. And that goes double for you and your appearance. Arrive at the client’s place of business early so there is time to tend to your hair and brush your teeth. Never refuse the offer of a breath mint. Tracy M. says,
Spelling, grammar and pronunciation of the client’s name. I cannot stress enough how important these are to sound professional. Too many younger professionals these days want to blow it off as not important, but it is critical to earning the client’s respect. It’s one of those things where no one notices if it’s right, but clients know when it’s wrong. It appears that you don’t care enough about them and their business to get it right. Clients who are well-educated people know the difference between their/there/they’re or to/too/two. By not writing and speaking intelligently, they will judge you.
Tara W. says,
I think [it] needs to be without misspellings or obvious grammatical errors. As well as for sure NO arithmetic errors. It is often nice to have page numbers for each reference and to have what you are presenting bound in some presentable manner-not just a staple.
Josie P. says, “All of our information has to go through formal review processes before it can be presented to the client in a finalized form.”
Steve S. says, “Have the courage to deliver bad news or differences of opinion. This will make relationships actually stronger.”
Stay in touch with your client for necessary follow-up
Enter the need for social media. As you build your reputation, it is important that your clients think of you in more positive ways than, “He just wants to make a sale.” As Daniel C. said earlier, building a great reputation is key, and adding clients to your team is very important. Make sure that clients know they are important to you and that you have a continuing interest in their success. When doing business, it is much better to earn a friend than just simply earn his/her money.
Debit and credit – – David Albrecht