Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey Sweetheart, It ain't about you, its all about the client!

I talked with a business owner the other day who was excited and happy!  In fact, she was really walking on Cloud 9!  I asked her why she was so happy.  She told me that her small firm had just received a multi million dollar contract and in the process, beat out several other firms much large in size and stature than her firm.

Curiosity being what it is, I could not help but want to know more.  So I asked!  Here is what she told me.  Her firm competed with over 50 other firms, some of regional and national significance on this particular project.  After the client evaluation team ranked all of the various competing firm proposals, her firm, along with two other firms reached the final review stage.  The other two firms were of much greater size and stature than her firm-- HOWEVER, the key factor which allowed her firm to win the contract was that they LISTENED TO THE NEEDS AND DESIRES OF THE CLIENT!

The business owner told me that one firm presented a "canned" solution to the problem, while the other competing firm proposed something that the client had no interest in.  Her small firm carefully listened to what the client said they needed and wanted.  Her small firm then took those ideas and proposed a solution that exactly fulfilled the needs, desires and expectations of the client.  The end result-- a multi-million contract which provides much needed work for several months.

Now, the real question becomes, do you really listen to the client or do you think that you know more than the client and have a pre determined solution in mind before the client is finished describing what he/she needs or wants?

Remember, in grade 2, the teacher always talked about listening.  There is a difference between listening and hearing.  When you listen, you detect the various nuances and inflections that the speaker provides when he/she is talking.  When you hear, you know that someone is speaking, but normally do not ascertain the real specifics of the conversation.

  • When a client asks for a specific product, service or need, do you really LISTEN to what is being requested?
  • Do you use probing, open ended questions to gather more information about the needs of the client?
  • Do you try to accurately help the client refine his/her needs and desires before proposing a product or solution to the client need?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you are probably not maximizing your ability to completely fulfill the specific needs of the client.  Remember, the client is the one paying the bill.  Giving he/she what they want, and helping clarify their needs and expectations in the process will normally result in a happy client as well as a happy vendor.

Listening to the needs of the client is paramount in increasing overall business viability.  Don't forget to carefully listen to what the client wants.  When you listen, you substantially increase your ability to gain business than may have gone to a competitor!


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