point of view

Speak plainly, speak honestly – even if it’s not what they want to hear

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Recently on a major pitch, the other bidders were promising the earth and were trying to impress the panel with their expertise and capability. We thought what the client was trying to achieve was not possible.

We spoke simply and plainly about why we thought this and provided them with a solution that didn’t meet all their needs but was achievable. After the presentation the team thought we had blown it. However we won the job as we were the only bidder that came across as credible and the client thought they could trust.

Stating your considered view clearly and honestly, even if it is not seen as the ‘political’ thing to do, may appear risky at the time but is likely to be rewarded in both the short and long term.

What do I say to someone new?

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A lot of people ask ‘what should I talk about when I am meeting someone new?

In some ways it is an impossible question to answer but in some ways it’s very easy.

The easy response is to just be yourself – you’ve built friendships and relationships many time and there is really no difference in a work situation. The problem is that in a work situation most people put significant pressure on themselves to try to be the smartest person in the room to impress with knowledge.  The key is to remember:

1. People want to talk to someone who is authentic

2. Being authentic requires a lot less energy than trying to being something you are not – save the energy for talking about a topic you are authentically interested in

3. It should be about building a relationship‎ and for that to be long-term it has to be built on a solid or true foundation.

The key for me (as well as being authentic) is to create a focused conversation on something of mutual interest‎. So how do you find the topic of mutual interest. Here’s my 5 simple tips:

1. do your research on the person and the company – but don’t create a script. It’s amazing what you can learn from LinkedIn, twitter etc that will allow you to direct the conversation to areas that interest the other person

2. have a Point of View to take in and be prepared to use and also be prepared to throw it away (ie not use it if the other person wants to go down another path)

3. give the client some space through questions and sharing observations that allows them to raise issue of interest to them

4. share an article of piece of thought leadership that you believe may be of interest

5 raise a couple of areas that are of interest to you – that you do have knowledge about but would genuinely like more insight from the other person.

At the end of the day, every one likes to feel valued, likes to engage on a topic of mutual interest and wants their opinion to be heard

Not having a view – the biggest mistake advisers make

Your qualifications, credentials and references are worth nothing if you can’t show relevance to the client.

I believe to walk in without a point of view on the client’s issues is not living up to the brand promise of an adviser and is not respecting the client as a peer, nor valuing their time.

If you are approaching the client to obtain a role to assist them, I am sure you have thought about what you’d do if you got it. If so, why wouldn’t you share how you would go about it, what you expect some of the issues to be and what are the likely benefits?

I know a number of people will say that they don’t go in with a position due to the fear of getting it wrong. But that fear is all about them. The biggest risk is actually not stating a view – the client expects that you have done your homework and that you will bring some insights to them.
The client knows that you may not know all the ins and outs of their business; but they will be far happier to talk about their business issues with someone who shows they have thought about the issues, rather than someone who is effectively saying ‘I’ve got skills, you work out how to use them.’