Monthly Archives: January 2011

How well are you performing for your clients?

We asked 200 clients of professional services firms in New Zealand how they evaluate an adviser’s performance. The answer overwhelmingly came down to ‘was I well advised?’

Clients specifically evaluate:

  • The outcome/result they achieved
  • How effectively their adviser(s) worked with them and their extended team
  • The cost of the work versus the benefits derived from that work
  • The timeliness of the advice
  • The adviser’s understanding of their business, goals and values.

A number of people interviewed (typically in larger organisations) said they evaluate performance by going through a contestable process (typically an RFP) every few years.

In order to build client loyalty, it’s imperative that you understand how your clients will evaluate your performance on each j0b you do for them.

We recommend:

  • Finding out what your clients’ goals are for the project / matter,  and what they need from you, by when, at the outset.
  • Asking them how they will evaluate your performance up front.
  • Ensuring you manage their expectations throughout the process – if you can’t deliver something when you said you would, tell them at the earliest opportunity. If the scope of the work changes or costs look likely to escalate, tell them early so that you can work together to agree a way forwards.
  • Conducting an end of project review on all major projects as well as on a number of smaller ones.

Understanding what’s important to your clients on each matter/project is vital if you are to retain and grow your relationship with them.

By understanding and managing their expectations throughout the process, and by regularly benchmarking your performance, you will be able to tailor your approach and service to each client – building trust and loyalty.

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Are you the right horse for the course?

What do clients look for when hiring professional services advisers?

We’ve interviewed over 200 clients of professional services firms over the past 18 months and 83% of them say they look for the right person(s) for the job.

While the backing of a large firm is important when deals/projects are large or complex, this horses for courses approach to appointing advisers provides huge opportunities for smaller firms and individuals who can demonstrate they’re the right person for the job.

What do clients mean by ‘the right person for the job’?

  • Someone with the necessary technical competence/expertise: as evidenced by their past experience on similar projects, their reputation, their ability to influence decision makers, their knowledge and their level of professionalism.
  • Someone who is the right fit: at both a personal and team level, including the adviser’s ability to work well with the extended team.
  • Someone who understands, or shows they are willing to learn about, the client’s business: an adviser who will anticipate needs and protect the client’s interests.

So, how can you demonstrate you’re the right person for the job?

  • Position yourself as an expert in your field by sharing useful, relevant and timely content with your target audience(s) via a variety of channels both online and offline.
  • Provide evidence of your technical competence/expertise through the content you share as well as via case studies and client testimonials.
  • Seek to demonstrate how you work and your fit at both a personal and team level via client testimonials, testimonials from other practitioners who have worked with you on a deal/project, case studies, and your bio. When meeting with prospective clients in person, view this as an opportunity to demonstrate how you work.
  • Ask your clients and prospects questions to find out about their businesses, do your research and then share relevant content with them. Call them to let them know about things which may impact their business. Share case studies and testimonials of work you’ve done in their industry. If you don’t understand a prospective client’s business, ask pertinent questions, and then tell them how you will get up to speed.

Building your personal profile and evidencing your work, your working style, your understanding of (or willingness to understand) your clients’ businesses and the outcomes you’ve helped your clients achieve are key to demonstrating you are the right horse for the course.

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Is your LinkedIn profile compelling and will you get found before your competitors?

If you want to benefit from being on LinkedIn, then you need to get the basics right. Your personal profile should be 100% complete and compelling. It should also contain the necessary keywords to ensure that, when your target audience is searching for a professional, they find you before your competitors.

Here are our top 11 tips to help you get the basics right:

  1. Instead of simply stating your job title in your professional headline, say who you help and how you help them. For example, I am a business development and marketing consultant for the professional services sector, but that doesn’t tell my target audience anything about how I help them so instead I’ve changed it to ‘helping professional service firms retain clients, grow clients and attract the right kinds of new clients’.
  2. Find out what keywords your target audience use to search for professionals in your field and then include these words in the specialties section of your profile. This will improve your search ranking on LinkedIn and increase your chance of getting found before your competitors.
  3. Include an appropriate photo.
  4. Think about why you’re on LinkedIn and write your summary with that in mind – if you are on there for marketing/business development reasons we recommend stating who you help, what you help them with and some results you’ve achieved. You may want to include some information on your working style/approach as well as a small amount of personal information. The aim of this section is to give people a reason to connect with you and to begin to position yourself.
  5. Think about which additional features might help you build your profile. For example, if you’re a designer you might want to add the ‘creative portfolio display’ application, if you’re a lawyer you might want to add the ‘legal updates’ application. If you have a business blog, or Twitter regularly then add these applications. You will find the ‘Add sections’ link above the summary section when you view your profile.
  6. Over time, ask for recommendations from clients, colleagues, business partners etc. You’ll find themes emerge quite quickly and it gives people a real flavour of what you’re like to work with – which is invaluable. Subject to the person’s approval you may also be able to use these recommendations in your marketing materials.
  7. Include a link to your website - if you have more than one website, link to your primary one as people will be more likely to click through. Options just confuse.
  8. If you Twitter regularly (for business purposes) then include a link to your Twitter account.
  9. Include some information in the interests section – people want to connect with likeminded people. Having a common interest is a good conversation opener.
  10. Ensure you include your basic contact information in both the personal information section and the contact settings section – this will ensure people who find you through both LinkedIn and google (or another search engine) can contact you.
  11. Personalise your vanity URL to your firstnamesurname (without the random numbers that LinkedIn automatically assigns you). The main reason to do this is that you are likely to appear higher up search engine rankings when someone googles your name. In order to do this go into the ‘edit profile’ section and click on the ‘change public profile settings’ on the right hand side. You also have the option to decide what information you want to appear on your public profile.

How useful have you found these tips?

If you have any other tips or ideas about how to build a compelling LinkedIn profile, we’d love to hear them.

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