In order to effectively engage with clients, the following are key ingredients of the relationship:
- Quality communication
- Ongoing valuable benefits to both persons and aiming for the classic win: win
- Regular framing of the relationship.
Mutually agreed transparency, high quality and considered communication, striving for two-way benefits, and correctly framing the relationship, will create the desired beneficial outcomes in that relationship. Such terminology can appear lacking in empathy, but these factors translate into an improved business and personal relationship. It’s important to recognize that every relationship has two parties and the feelings of each party matter and impact on each other, in either the short, medium, or long term. An individual’s decision making is strongly influenced by past experiences. Feeling valued is fundamental and a key factor in all relationships. In the business, the problem in feeling valued is highly subjective. We live in a rapidly developing Digital World where new types of human interactions are building, not necessarily one-to-one. However, the growing ability to use technology as a communication medium merely emphasizes the importance to human beings of personal relationships and trust. Certainly, technology has created new dynamics of transparency and choice. Technology can enhance relationships and is not successful as an alternative to relationship interactions. One of the benefits of technology is that it can offer innovative ways to communicate and should only enhance the quality of business relationships. The real danger with technology is that it is often used as a lazy and poor means of communication, especially in ongoing relationships. For instance, sending an email to someone asking them to do something, does not mean they have agreed to act, or indeed are OK with your request. Technology has sped-up communication, but not necessarily improved it! Nothing beats one to one engagement, because business really is all about people – it’s that simple! In business roles, the relationship needs to be framed, so everyone knows where they stand. All relationships include:
- Authorities – where the individual has mutually agreed boundaries of authority.
- Responsibilities – where the individual has mutually agreed specific responsibilities.
Typically, when authorities and responsibilities are in balance, the individual and relationship produces reliable results, but conversely, lack of balance is usually unsustainable and provides a less than happy and fulfilling experience. To help understand business relationships there are seven key business to business roles:
In each role, the descriptions apply to the deliverer and in each case the recipient is the client. Virtually all these roles are business to business relationships, but clearly you could deliver a range of roles for the same client. The key element is that each role is separately defined, with its own outcomes, authorities, and responsibilities. This ensures quality framing and thus understanding by both the deliverer and the recipient.
- Mentoring is typically provided by mature successful people who desire to give something back, without charging for their insights or support and encouragement and not for you until you retire!
- Facilitating is a fee-paying role involving asking important questions, in the right way, to enable clients to articulate their goals and outcomes, which is classic advisory work.
- Coaching is a fee-paying role helping clients to achieve stated goals, often from a facilitated session. The focus is on moving forward with goals and identifying success gaps.
- Consulting is a fee-paying role providing specialist advice on a particular problem designed to solve or resolve this problem, which is classic technical consulting problem solving and lucrative advisory services.
- Training is fee-paying, or part of a larger process to equip participants with a mixture of latest information, skills and awareness. In the modern digital age, much training is provided online providing the recipient with control of access and participation.
- Regulating is fee-paying and ensuring that clients remain within pre-defined rules and regulations, such of course, as our classic auditing services.
- Supplying is, a paid supply of goods and services on demand and not often supplied by accountants, unless clients outsource software from you via the Cloud.
The clients’ identified need for support and progress timelines depend on:
- Your time availability
- The clients’ affordability
- The clients’ appetite for speed of change
- The benefits to the clients of you being regularly involved are:
- You can show them support and encouragement
- You can regularly remind them of their objectives and keep them on track
- You can bring financial acumen and realism to the table when clients get carried away!
- They stay flexible, by reflecting upon developments and adapting to changing conditions
- They can stay focused and see progress.
When they lose momentum, you can motivate them to stay on track to their plan, not your plan. They go at their pace.
The benefits to your firm are:
- You are at the core of your client’s plans and in a position of optimum positive influence – their most trusted strategic advisor
- You are seen as and deliver proactive advisory input.
- You protect your client relationship and will get fewer surprises
- You are regularly in a position to pick up on new advisory projects.
- You have recurring fees and an enhanced perception of value.
You get to enjoy fulfilling and rewarding work You are VALUED!