Conversations With CEOs – Why Business Savvy Counts

“But I know my profession inside out,” says my next door neighbour. “I don’t understand why this particular contract eluded us.”

Most of us can checkmark the long list of reasons why clients do business with us. Besides establishing rapport and long-term relationships, providing excellent quality of service and technical accuracy, often there is one important criteria that hasn’t been given consideration. This is most true when dealing with senior executives. Decision makers gravitate to professional experts they trust to understand their business and the particular industry issues that can make or break their success.

They appreciate that you are an expert tax advisor for example, and wouldn’t see you if you weren’t. However, they are most interested in how you can help them navigate industy issues inside and outside of what you do as a professional. What do you actually know about business and particularly theirs? How conversant are you? Can they introduce you to their investors? Their Chairman of the Board?

Now you ask, “How can I keep up with all the nuances related to a multitude of industries when I can barely keep up with all the ongoing changes related to my own profession and staying at the top of my game?”

Here’s a few suggestions:

I. Identify the industries your top 20 clients and top 10 prospective clients come from?

II. Start with prioritizing a few industries to learn more about based on who you do profitable business with now.

III. Keep files of newspaper and magazine articles, industry journals and anything else you can find that’s pertinent for easy reference as required. Read them, think about them, make connections to your services.

IV. Ask clients about their industry issues. What level of knowledge would distinguish you from a competitive service provider and why is that important to them?

V. Finally, as you learn about the top issues currently affecting your clients, explore your expertise can help turn issues into opportunities rather than threats. Quantify how your services can minimize risks and make a difference in the achievement of the client’s objectives.

VI. File your stories, either your own or those that you hear about. For example, if you have a client who was able to retain one staff member that saved them $200,000. in recruitment and training costs, not to mention preventing loss of knowledge and clients, as a result of your consulting or coaching services, then be sure you find a way to save that story. Get a testimonial or at least be able to talk about the bottom line results that your client achieved as a result of working with you, Business Savvy Professional Extraordinaire!

VII. Have fun – part of lifelong learning is getting outside of our own boxes and jumping into other’s now and then to truly empathize and problem solve with clients.

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