Curious George books talk to each other. When I would scamper into the children’s section of the library, any unread book in the collection would call out, “Read me!” Whereas Babar the creepy elephant, who scared the daylights out of young me, broadcast, “Stay away” from every volume. Apparently Babar stories whisper amongst themselves too. Client organizations are similar. (Sorta.)
They talk amongst themselves. Whether or not they Like you—a purely emotional and subjective quality—determines whether multiple buyers will reach out to you or keep you at bay.
While the “Like Pillar” is important for winning an individual project, it looms even larger at the organization level. Your reputation as being enjoyable or unpleasant to work with precedes you inside an enterprise. It can grease the skids for future projects or stop you in your tracks.
The following five, interrelated practices will help you be loved like Winnie the Pooh** or eschewed like the Grinch.**
5 Best Practices for “Like” at the Enterprise Level
1. Be Likeable
Yeah, this sounds like circular reasoning, but it’s not for consultants who lead a firm or project team. Remember that your attitude sets the tone for your group.
2. Be Easy to Work With
You’re smart, capable and deliver outstanding results, but do you play nicely in the sandbox? Operationally, do your projects run smoothly or are they disorganized? Is it completely clear to the client whom they should call in any circumstance? If the client requests something like an extra analysis that doesn’t take long, is there grumbling or cheerful collaboration? Ask your clients how easy they find it to work with you and your teams and you’ll find out any areas to improve here.
3. Be Responsive
When the client calls, how long does it take someone from your team to get back? If they have a request, do you immediately find a way to meet it or at least discuss their needs? If your client runs into a hiccough, whether it’s being late for a plane or struggling with a presentation, do you proactively respond to their needs? As I’ve noted elsewhere, responsiveness rules. Anything you do to improve your performance in this area will pay huge dividends.
4. Be Professional
This particularly applies to problems or complaints during a project. Jump on whatever issue arises as quickly as possible and manage it with integrity and professionalism. Defensiveness, stubbornness and the blame game all paint you with an unpleasant brush. Conversely, listening, seeking to understand, and relentlessly focusing on reaching resolution will win you fans.
5. Be a Source of Value, Not Trouble
Consultants have a reputation for stirring up dissent and disturbing people’s work; for putting extra demands on employees without explanation, apology or even respect. Since ruffling a few feathers may be unavoidable to make progress, keep an eye on your benefit-to-detriment ratio across the organization.Small gestures can quickly tip the scales in your favor. Help complete a difficult task, volunteer a few provocative ideas, or serve as a safe place for an executive to vent their frustration. These minor, everyday, value-adding moments mitigate ill will you cause just by doing your job.
The five practices above are just a starting point. What else have you found to be effective in building a reputation for being Likeable?
*This article is Part 3 of a seven-part series in which I show you how to win more follow-on and pull-through business by mastering the Six Pillars of Consulting Success at the “enterprise” level.
Part 2 – 8 Strategies for Finding the World’s Easiest Buyers
Part 4 – If You Master This One, Consulting Super Power, More Businesses Will Seek Your Help
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
Helping others to look good and reduce their stress is a first-class ticket to Likeable at the enterprise level. For me those opportunities are created in the context of providing unexpected education on accounting or technology techniques, unexpected listening.and ideas to offer which seem to turn everything upside down and make them make sense all at the same time.
In the middle of a quarterly accounting checkup, I once taught a manager the concept of “reasonableness” which accountants are so famous for. But in the context of her stress, this word gave her the power to assess whether a situation was worth her stressing out about and gave her a new platform for addressing requests received from her own managers. It changed everything for her. Permanently.
That’s a great addition, Jaime. Helping individuals look good and, by extension, helping the organization/company as a whole improve it’s position, trajectory, reputation or capabilities can increase Like at the enterprise level. Thanks for the specific examples, too. Permanently changing someone’s life for the better can certainly cement an important relationship.
Delivering on all objectives while exceeding client expectations without hassle or long wait resulting in more work says.
Right you are, Alison. Above all else, do good work! Creating client delight will definitely build a positive reputation inside the client. Thanks for contributing that thought.
Very well-written. Love your graphic with the tail marked “Spineless.” Says everything.
Thanks for the kind words, Martha. Newcomers to our field sometimes don’t recognize how attuned a consultant must be to when it’s time to be agreeable vs. when it’s time to push back vs. when it’s time to walk away. All three can be done in a way that maintains or builds your personal relationship with the client.