Leading a horse to water

7 Apr 2010 - 1:12pm
4 years ago
6 replies
1124 reads
Yvonnia Martin
2009

Hi All:

Just curious: How do you work to convince the client that your solution should be implemented? I know this involves a great deal of "sales" skill, but what about those clients who make you really feel like you are trying to "lead a horse to water but he just won't drink"! There are some clients who will spend so much money on a consultant and never take a step toward implementing.

What are some of your tactics and advise?

--Y

Comments

7 Apr 2010 - 1:48pm
andrewhartman
2010

Hi Yvonnia:

I think the key here is leverage: both with your individual relationship with the client, and with the client's pain points.

We spend a lot of time relationship building with clients to ensure they see us as partners and not vendors.  Not moving forward with our recommendations then moves beyond simple business decisions and becomes personal on some level as they are discounting our (to this point) agreed upon expertise.

Also, the deeper we understand our clients, the greater handle we have on their pain points.  This can be both business-related (sinking profits, compeitors gaining marketshare, etc), and personal (current process is arduous, indecision is causing stress, moving forward will assist the client in their personal career goals).  If our recommendation can alleviate these pain points, we lean on these pretty hard to help the client understand the benefit of moving forward, and the pitfalls of not moving forward.

As in business development, the key to this is ensuring you have 100% conviction that the client moving forward with your recommendation is the best move for the client.  Otherwise it simply becomes manipulation to get what you want.

Andrew

7 Apr 2010 - 2:28pm
Aaron Michael I...
2010

I have learned that i can't force the issue, If they are set in their ways, they are gonna do what they want, which is unfortunate as they are often wasting their money paying for consulting they don't plan on using.

I try to have case studies or examples for them that back up what I am suggesting or presenting. Clients often respond to seeing that what you are suggesting has worked in the past (especially if there were positive monetary results).

Outside of that I think in the initial discussions with the client it is a good topic to address topics like this in order to get a feel for how they work, and respond to input.

 

~ Aaron I
www.thisisaaronslife.com

7 Apr 2010 - 5:30pm
Lnajera
2010

Here are a few recommendations I would make for creating a compelling
argument for why you idea should be implemented.

1) Cost Analysis-is the solution your offering more cost effective
than the alternative or status qou? 2) Cost Benefits-does your solution provide a return on investment. 3) Does your solution provide a desirable outcome for your clients
business, such as increased productivity, greater efficincies etc.

Clients are mostly interested in the bittom line so the idea is to
identify what is important to your client, is it increasing profits?
(usually the case); then you cater the presentation of your solution
as a way of achieving that goal.

I would also recommend against:

A) Giving too many choices- clients have a hard time deciding so it's
better to stick to your guns an provide one solution. B) Don't get caught up with techno babble - clients have a hard time
accepting something don't understandi so keep it simple and use
diagrams, or metaphors of real world examples as a way of explaining
the solution.

Hope this helps some

Ludwing Najera

On Apr 7, 2010, at 2:32 PM, Yvonnia Martin
wrote:

> Hi All: > > Just curious: How do you work to convince the client that your
> solution should be implemented? I know this involves a great deal of
> "sales" skill, but what about those clients who make you really feel
> like you are trying to "lead a horse to water but he just won't
> drink"! There are some clients who will spend so much money on a
> consultant and never take a step toward implementing. > > What are some of your tactics and advise? > > --Y > >

8 Apr 2010 - 9:01pm
Yvonnia Martin
2009

Thanks to all for your comments and suggestions

8 Apr 2010 - 10:15pm
Audrey Crane
2009

It took me a while to learn to deal with this gracefully -- it's tough. Two pieces of advice:

  1. Try a usability study, if it can be tested that way. Usually clients can agree to that easily enough, and seeing is believing (for you too!).
  2. Make sure they understand your point, and then move on. They are paying for advice but not to be hounded, and if you're really right they'll probably come back around to your perspective someday. You might not be around, but either way, you don't want the issue to be so fraught with conflict and frustration that they don't want to go back and make the change (or call you back and say, "You were right."). And if the client is right, you will definitely want to have moved on and not spent too much time on it.

 

Good luck!

8 Apr 2010 - 10:55pm
abdul ghani
2010

Coming up with a strategy to get clients to adopt your findings is great, however at the end of the day it all comes down to execution. Just from the number of responses to this thread, it's obvious that there's more than one way to "lead a horse to water". The key win in my previous experiences has been the ability to speak to the client in their own language. This is simply about being creative in the way you present your findings. Use terminology relevant to the clients industry. I've found that molding my initial conceptual model around the clients business model often helps in communicating my design decisions. Take a look at a present proposal you may be struggling with think about how you can change the way it's pitched in order to communicate better to the client. A

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