Client Relationships

Why you should never ask a CEO what their challenges are

By Keith Dugdale

People love asking about challenges in sales meetings.

In my many years of observing sales people, ‘What are your biggest challenges?’ would only be surpassed in popularity by an equally doomsday style question ‘What keeps you up at night?’.

Don’t get me wrong – asking about their challenges can be a very good question, and is certainly a better question than ‘what keeps you up at night?’ which has become as frequently used in sales meetings as Big Macs are seen in McDonalds. If you’ve built a level of trust with the other person before you ask it, it can definitely unearth a whole host of interesting information, and hopefully gives you an opportunity to give the other person lots of ideas about how they can tackle these challenges (and not just with your own product or service, of course).

But this doesn’t mean it’s a good question to ask everyone….and particularly to ask CEO’s.

If it can be suc [...]

The project has finished, can we still talk?

by Ben Paul

One of the most common issues I hear from clients and others organisations is how they can talk to their contacts once the work has been completed. It is almost as if they have only had one sole reason to speak and that is to deliver the service for which they can send their invoice for. Then once that final invoice is sent, well what do you talk about?

Why your client doesn’t respond to your messages outside of the project

I’ve even had some people tell me that it is their client who either doesn’t want a relationship with their suppliers or that they are just simply extremely introverted or rude! There is of course a slim chance that this could be true but in my experience it is highly unlikely. So why aren’t they responding?

  1. The only value you give is in the work you do. Which is great, it is important for any business to deliver their service or product well. However, assuming you have compet [...]

6 tips to overcome your fear and start selling

by Ben Paul

To be successful in your career, you will need to develop and build new relationships with people. However, does the mere thought of this start to make you feel anxious?

When you’re looking to change how you do things in any way, even if it is just a small adjustment it can be very difficult. In challenging or highly complex markets, that fear of doing something different can really hold you back. In fact, if you tend to see risks rather than the opportunity in a new situation, this behavioural preference can prevent you from building new relationships. (If you are unsure of your behavioural preferences you can discover what they are by taking our free octagon behavioural assessment here)

I often ask people, if you were given the choice, “Would you rather go back to your desk and get on with your day job, or go out and talk to a total stranger?”

The [...]

I’m Social but I’m not Selling

by Ben Paul

Taking your clients or prospects to the rugby or theatre? Buying them plenty of drinks and having great conversations about sport, the weather, their kids or dare I say it, the Bachelor? You’re getting on great but this relationship is unlikely to lead into profitable work for you or your organisation. In fact, it may even have got to that critical stage where it is now almost awkward to actually ask for the work. There is a real danger that your client has put you firmly in the “friend zone”. As the Bachelor would no doubt tell you, this isn’t a profitable place to find yourself.

Why it hurts in the “Friend Zone?”

Businesses have been investing in client hospitality for many years now, with little real tangible return on investment. In the last couple of decades, it is likely that this return has diminished even further. It turns out that having a good social relationship with your client may not actuall [...]

Will a robot replace you?

By Ben Paul

Man v Machine.

There’s no doubt technology does some pretty cool things. In fact, it is a great enabler. Indeed, it has managed to speed up a lot of business processes and lead to efficiencies which have driven growth and economic prosperity. The effects on blue collar workers have been felt as lean manufacturing, and increasingly machines and robots, have replaced manual workers on production lines over the last 30 or so years. For many years most white collar professionals have felt secure that their skills and expertise will always be needed, and cannot be replaced. However, the landscape is changing rapidly and the rise of the machines is not bad news simply for the lower skilled workers.  Indeed, a recent McKinsey report (read report here) found that 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current techn [...]

5 great questions to ask to really understand your client’s business

I love the start of a new year. Not just because it always means I will be skiing in knee deep powder in Whistler, the best place in the world (which I am, hence the photo above just to rub it in), but because the beginning of a new year is the best time EVER to shift your client relationships.

Why? Because the new year gives you the perfect excuse to ask them all sorts of longer-term, big picture questions about what the year ahead holds – for them personally, for their team, their company, even their industry. And it’s these kinds of conversations that are going to show you’re interested in them and their world, not just what money they’re going to give you, which will potentially shift your relationships from technical, social or ad-hoc, to a true trusted relationship.

To really get to know and understand my client’s businesses, here are five questions that I will often ask:

  1. “In an ideal world, what will your business look like in 3 [...]

Repairing broken trust – what VW can learn from Marion Jones

Image by the Sydney Morning Herald

Ben Paul, Director, the Business of Trust, New Zealand.A guest blog by Ben Paul

Someone asked me the other day whether I think VW can ever rebuild the trust they have so badly broken with consumers the world over in wake of the recent emissions scandal.

It’s an interesting question. They’re pretty far down a hole at the moment, and I for one am very glad I’m not working in the PR department of VW, or on the floor as a sales rep. For all intents and purposes, it appears that they are just attempting to go about business-as-usual. This morning on my way to work I passed a billboard advertising one of their 4WDs, t [...]

How should you respond to RFPs when you have no relationship?

I’ve recently noticed the same question being asked by many of my clients in regards to Requests for Proposals (RFPs). They want to know how to respond when a proposal comes into the market from an organisation that they really, really want to work with, but currently no relationship exists. This is a great question with a complex answer – which I will attempt to answer here, and also on the video below.

I, of course, will say that 10 times out of 10, if you have no relationship with the economic buyers/decision makers at the client organisation at the moment when the RFP comes out, you should not bid. But I’m also a realist and know that there is always a BUT or WHAT IF.

So, if you’re not going to say no outright, then the first and most critical question to ask yourself in determining whether or not to bidis can you get access to key decision makers before the decision is made? If, after evaluating this question you don’t believe that there’s [...]

What I learnt from Grant Holman, Australia’s most client-focused Engineer.

grant.holman__hcYou can learn a lot about a company, it’s culture and the people who work for it, by what happens when you enter their reception area.

When I walked into the reception area of Wood & Grieve Engineers in Melbourne at 5:15pm on a Monday afternoon to interview Grant Holman, the recent winner of the 2015 Financial Review Client Choice Awa [...]

‘Only 20% of what I do is actually about the law’: Mark Woolley chats with Keith about how he won the 2015 Financial Review Client Choice Award for most client-focused lawyer.

Mark WoolleyThe 2015 Financial Review Client Choice award winners were recently announced and among them was Mark Woolley (pictured left) from McInnes Wilson, winner of the award for most client focused lawyer based on independent feedback from dozens of [...]