As an independent consultant, building lasting client relationships goes beyond simply providing advice and strategic direction. Long-term value for clients isn’t measured by how well or how efficiently you complete a project, but rather by how your work helps clients meet their overall business objectives.
By talking to your clients about the larger goals they have for their business and carrying these goals throughout the individual projects you complete, you can help clients meet their overall business objectives. Follow these four steps on your next project to create long-term value for your client.
When working with a client for the first time, it is important to have a clear understanding of their overall business needs. What is most important to them? How can you design your project to help them achieve their goals? Think about how your services align with their needs and how the project you’ve been tasked with can contribute to these larger business goals.
During initial conversations, work closely with your client to develop value statements for your project that match their business goals. Down the road, this will help you to demonstrate concrete Return on Investment (ROI) for the work you complete.
Value can be a tricky thing to measure as it means different things to different people, but by getting to know your client, understanding what drives value for their business, and creating specific project goals, you will put both your project as well as their business on the path to success.
Strong communicators follow this rule: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. The idea here is to make sure that your client is able to clearly see and recognize the value in what you are trying to communicate.
When everyone is busy focusing on getting work done, communication can fall by the wayside. That’s why it’s important to clearly and consistently communicate throughout the project. Make it clear from the beginning that you will work with your client to develop value statements that align with their business goals and that you will evaluate progress against these agreed-upon value statements as the project progresses.
Leverage the value you create to show how what you’ve done has helped support a client’s existing goals or investments, or how your work can provide continued optimization of your client’s services. If they are able to see concrete evidence of how your work is enabling even more business value, they will likely provide a referral or engage your services again.
To create long-term value for clients, you need to define what that value means to them and then communicate and integrate it into the processes, methodologies, or work plans you deliver. Building a consistent workflow that clients are able to repeat is extremely useful. Once a project is complete, be sure to highlight the value of what you have accomplished to demonstrate to your client how what you’ve done has supported their business goals.
At this point, you should be delivering work as promised with business value in mind. If not, you can begin to assess any gaps and close them before they become problematic. Stay engaged with your client to successfully finish the project, measuring and communicating progress through to the end. Be sure to celebrate your successes with your client and create next steps to enhance or expand on the foundation you’ve built.
Don’t miss out on opportunities to create long-term value. Speaking confidently and clearly articulating business value will help to establish you as a trusted business partner, drive growth, and ensure successful long-term relationships.