In his book Relationship Economics, David Nour urges us to think strategically about our business relationships. A significant component of that strategy, he says, is for us to know our purpose. As a Performance Consultant, our purpose is to serve our clients as a Strategic Business Partner. But how do we do that if our clients keep labeling us as simply a Learning Support Provider? Here are some ideas.
According to Dana Gaines Robinson, we can become a Strategic Business Partner to our clients by:
- Gaining Access
- Building Credibility
- Fostering Trust
In order to Gain Access to new clients, we can:
- Develop visibility by offering to serve on corporate initiatives where we will interact with these individuals
- Ask an existing client or colleague who regards us favorably to provide an introduction to the new client
- Offer to share our research with this new client in an area that he/she may be interested in—research that has business value
In order to Build Credibility with clients, we can:
- Demonstrate that we possess knowledge of their business—and more importantly, skills in helping to make their business more successful by developing their employees. We can do so by sharing what we know about the client’s business priorities and describing to the client how partnering with us will help him/her satisfy those priorities. We can sell clients on the value of our skill set and services.
- Be a good listener. Ask probing questions about projects currently underway or new projects the client envisions in the future. Listen; then, discuss our unique skill set with the client as we offer to assist with new or existing projects. We may also want to share examples of our work with the client.
In order to Foster Trust with clients, we can:
- Seek clarity and confirmation on the client’s expectations of us, and—at the same time—share our expectations of the client. We can voice our assumptions and have the client voice his or her assumptions as well. We can do so honestly, openly, and frankly.
- Meet or exceed the client’s expectations. In doing so, we’ll build credibility and foster trust.
- Get to know the client personally, as well as professionally. Work is one dimension of the client’s life. What matters to the client outside of work? We can take an interest in all facets of the client’s life.
These are just some tactical tips for executing on the strategy to become a Strategic Business Partner to new and existing clients.