Client Servant or Partner?

A lot of my work recently has been about value… supporting consultants to raise their fees. In today’s competitive market, fee-pressure seems to be a common problem across professions: from international consulting organisations to national law firms to independent project-managers.

In order to raise fees, you have to raise perceived value. To raise value, your services have to be valued. So do you.

It’s all too easy to be seen as the client’s servant. Whatever we say about ourselves (credibility) there are certain behaviours – in meetings and on email – that may still diminish the value of our services… even before we quote for them.

When it comes to fees, your words are only a small part of your credibility. Your behaviour may well dictate a larger part of the equation.

The key to success is shifting from “client servant” to real “client partner”. In this way, you build a peer-to-peer relationship with your client, right from the first meeting.

Here a few examples of Client Servant behaviour:

- Allowing yourself to be interviewed by the client / prospect
- Trying too hard to be “interesting”, instead of being “interested”
- Going into detail too quickly, without context
- Answering “how” questions, instead of reframing them
- Not bringing any insights to meetings: just turning up to respond to their agenda
- Being too readily available
- Conducting self-preoccupied client reviews, instead of exploring value/usefulness
- Quoting a daily (or hourly) rate too early
- Taking too many notes
- Discounting your fees (often even without being asked!)
- Talking about you, instead of them and their world
- Not know how (and when) to share success stories
- Bringing technical insights to the wrong people
- Being solely interested in “give us an assignment” conversations
- Long, rambling emails, too full of detail

And there are more. In today’s crowded markets, it’s all too easy to be seen as “just another service-provider” desperate for attention.

If that’s the norm, what are you doing to stand out? How can you establish a peer-to-peer relationship with your client, where you are seen as a real partner and not just their servant?

You are welcome to get in touch: john@vco-global.com

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