Appearances matter. Perception is reality. Life’s unfair.
Unfortunately all these clichés apply to consulting. The value clients place on your work (and therefore you) is not solely based on the quality of your work. It is largely impacted by perception.
We’ve polled some of YourEncore's most tenured talent acquisition managers to collect a list of client complaints, which had nothing to do with the quality of the work, but entirely on perception. If you’re not doing these 5 things, you may be turning off clients and losing business:
- Take Notes: Have you ever been to a restaurant where the server doesn’t write down your order. It’s unsettling. People’s antennae go up and they immediately become skeptical of the server’s capabilities. Applied to consulting, you should always visibly take notes during meetings. At a minimum, capture action items and key decisions even if you have a photographic memory. It shows the client you’re engaged and on top of your game.
- Value Your Time & Your Client's: Clients know the meter is always running when they work with consultants, so show them that you value your time and their money. Be punctual to meetings or alignment calls. Be crisp and on-point in meetings. Share meeting objectives in advance and conclude meetings once those objectives are met. Meetings are some of the more visible times you have with clients. Show them you’re an efficiency machine, and they will feel good about their investment in you.
- Dress the Part: While you may be in a different phase of your career, it is still important to maintain a professional appearance in front of clients. Late or encore career professionals have to fight some misperceptions – fair or unfair. Are you still current? Are you committed to my success? Am I interrupting your hobby? Dressing professionally helps answer all these questions, which we have received on occasion, and positions you for success.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Many of our experts work remotely and with flexible hours. When clients can’t physically see you regularly, it’s even more important to keep them appraised of your schedule and whereabouts. Clearly establish work times and expectations up front. If an emergency occurs that pulls you away, make every effort to notify your client or talent acquisition manager. When you are away, use automated out of office messages and update your voicemail message. Nothing upsets clients more than when they can’t get a hold of you.
- Invest in Product Packaging: Companies can invest millions in the packaging of their leading brands. As a consultant, you should be equally concerned about the appearance of your product. It matters to clients and subconsciously biases their perception of product quality and value. Consultants should leverage consistent templates, business cards, and email formats wherever possible.
While these complaints are rare, they do occur and have impacted the perceived success of engagements. By following these five steps, however, you can be sure the quality of your work shines through.