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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Tips To Help Service Businesses Succeed

You thought the deal was a certainty, but then the prospect made a new, unacceptable demand. Whether CPAs, financiers, or marketing consultants, all experience similar challenges along the client-consultant journey. Here are the five stages of the journey with tips on how to deal with some of the challenges experienced at each stage.

Introduction/Discovery: Your job is to get to know the client and discover the client's goals and needs. Additionally, you need to convey who you are, how you work, and how you can help the client. Bottom line you must decide if you can build a successful relationship that is based on mutual trust. If you sense there isn’t a fit, consider making a referral to someone else.

Project Definition: Do your homework. Research the industry, the company, and the problem to address. Assess whether the client's goals are clear and whether they are achievable. If necessary, reframe the project and/or negotiate project parameters so that everyone is satisfied. Work to develop trust. Then, create a roadmap that will help ensure success.

Agreement/Contract: Do not sign a contract or agreement until you are sure that you are able to deliver what you have promised and that the client will be happy. Make sure that you have complied with laws and regulations. Also, check whether the right people in the client organization have signed off on the project. While it is tempting to be overly flexible in order to secure business, an unrealistic contract or price can make it impossible to satisfy the client or to deliver the work profitably and on time.

The Work: Make sure you have the resources you need, including budget, staff, technology, and materials. Alert the client if problems emerge that will delay the project. Beware of scope creep. However, if you agree to expand the scope, add a surcharge to your fee.

Delivery: Avoid last-minute requests to change the scope, the end-product itself, or even the design or format of the end-product. End on a good note so that more engagements may follow.

To succeed, fully discuss the project with the prospective client. Can you create a partnership? Try to anticipate problems and address them. Emphasize that to meet deadlines, you require specific background information, as well as a contact who will be available to answer your questions. If you do your homework early on, you will have a more successful relationship.


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Copyright ©3/23 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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