Last Updated: Sep 19, 2016
What causes consulting clients to fail to commit – and more importantly, what can you do about it? Some clients will always be wishy washy, but take these five steps and they will be more likely to move forward with their project.
Projects are meant to be executed on. As a consultant, I see it all the time. Customers have everything in place including a favorable estimate or price from me to get started tomorrow or whenever they want and they just can’t do it. Hiring organizations that can’t make hiring decisions Have you ever had that one happen? I have. One time an organization couldn’t make a decision because they were convinced that since I was a consultant that I would not stay long. So I just remained this finalist in limbo for a position that was never filled. (the funny thing is they ended up spending four times more per hour to hire me for some consulting instead of hiring me as a W2….ok. Can I call that a win-win for me?).
Consulting 101 Series:
Change or react?
How do you change these customer or consulting client behaviors? You don’t really. They will likely never change. Whatever is causing them to not be able to let go of the past insecurities and the future anxieties is still there and will be there. What you can do is do everything you can to show that you are ready to go right now with them. Four things are key for that to happen…
Tell them you are committed to them. Let them know that you aren’t going anywhere. Point to your long term relationships with other clients – show them something concrete they can touch and see. Discuss plans for the project like you are mentally moving forward on the project for them. Sometimes that is the push they need and sometimes that still won’t work. But it is my first go-to when trying to jumpstart a project or consulting decision. Start talking about next steps – the more they see that you have a plan even when they can’t wrap their heads around it is sometimes the push they need to pull the trigger on the project or consulting initiative.
Give them your best possible price and tell them so. By doing this you eliminate price as a known issue…or at least a presumed issue. If it’s a consulting situation, tell them you really want to add them as a client and to do so you are giving them your absolute best price. And be detailed in your proposal. Tell the how many hours you are assuming they will need of your time.
Tell them you are flexible. Let the project client know that you are dedicated to making this work for them. They obviously need hand holding to get started so the best thing you can do is to show that you are available right now and flexible enough to tweak your services to their needs under the current agreement if their needs should change in week #2. Point to long term clients you’ve had so they understand that you are in it for the long haul and won’t bail on them quickly if something better comes along.
Offer them a long-term arrangement at a discount. They aren’t likely to take you up on this till you have a few months under your belt with them, but letting them know that this is an option you want to present to them and you are offering a discount to do so tells them you are committed to working with them. It may help them move forward and it may not, but this offer helps to take you out of the equation of any cause for them to be hesitating.
Ask the client what is causing the delay. When all else fails…or maybe first?…go straight to the source and just ask what might be causing the delay. They may not even realize that 2 or 3 or 5 weeks have passed…time flies sometimes. I have had that happen where the client was caught up in a new product release and didn’t even realize how long they had been out of touch. The best practice is to always ask…maybe there is something that you can ultimately do to help them move things along…and it may even mean more revenue for you.
These clients that are hoarding projects and can’t move forward for whatever reason are frustrating. Staff is ready. Plans are in place. Budgets are usually approved. Yet they can’t make hiring decisions or project kickoff moves for whatever reason. They are essentially hoarding initiatives because they lack whatever it takes to pull the trigger.
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Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author of A Real World Project Manager’s Guide to the Successful Project. He has over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at www.bradegeland.com.