Help me help you: 6 ways to be the best client ever

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By: Calista Carter | 10.9.13

Reflecting on a recent client engagement, I find myself thinking of a scene from Jerry McGuire. No, it’s not “you had me at hello” or “show me the money” (although I’ve had those moments, too).  No, this time it’s that “Help me help you” scene where Jerry (Tom Cruise) and the Rod (his football player client played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) are in the locker room after a game. 

Help. Me. Help. You.  Sounds easy, right?  Want to have a great relationship with your consulting partner and save time and money for your organization? Here are six recommendations, culled from years of experience on projects of all sizes.

 

Care and share

Care about your Organization’s mission – and share it with me! Engaging with a new client or starting a new project is an investment on the part of a consultant – especially those of us who work with non-profits.  Take the time to explain what you do or why you are embarking on this project – and share your Organization’s successes and impact.  Better yet, share why you're connected to the mission, or why you chose to work in this type of service. It helps to deepen our relationship and make me feel good about the work we are doing together. 

 

Be realistic

While I really will do everything in my power to get your project successfully delivered, unfortunately, my “powers” do not include magic.  Let your consulting partner help you define a reasonable scope and timeline for your project.  If you have a hard deadline, you may need to be flexible on the scope of what can be delivered.

 

Have a sense of humor

Being able to enjoy moments of levity as a team throughout the project builds a strong relationship and can help you get through the tough stuff.  Favorite recent fun moment – photo of a client team member wearing a David Bowie shirt on Launch day (all of the test contacts created during UAT were 70’s and 80’s rock stars).

 

Don’t freak out

That one part of the project that’s keeping you up at night?   Take a deep breath.  Call me.  I want to know about it too – and early on in the project, please.  If we can identify risks and potential issues up front, we can do something about them…and all sleep a little better.

 

Say thank you

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised….Oh sure, we’re getting paid, but often projects (especially at the end) require exceptional amounts of effort from your consulting partner.  If someone is going above and beyond, go out of your way to recognize it.  After an exceptionally hairy couple of weeks working through Data Migration, a client of mine tracked down the address of our Data Migration Lead, located a local restaurant and sent him a pizza.  Even a personal card to your consultant at the end of a project can really mean a lot (of course we love LinkedIn references and AppExchange reviews, too).

 

Be respectful of my time…and your money

Don’t spend 20 minutes on a call with me discussing (with your co-workers) how you are going to deliver/respond to a question I just asked.  Don’t discuss or work out your business processes during our meeting time – unless there are specific questions that require my input.  Come prepared for meetings and don’t rehash or ask the same questions over and over. Use your time with your consulting partner to discuss and address relevant and timely issues and questions. 

 

So again – help us help you. With these small thoughtful gestures, your project will go much more smoothly and we’ll have a strong foundation to weather both the bumps and successes together.

What did we miss? Let us know your tips for successful consultant-client relationships in the comments below.

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