Relationship Based Consulting


Earning business through relationships

Winning work for professional services firms can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. As one director of a professional services firm put it: “We’ll be the most expensive, and if we’re honest others will have a similar skill-set to ours – so we rely on the relationship we have.” Increasingly professional services firms see the quality of the relationship they have with their clients as central to their business strategy –in retaining clients and expanding the range of work they do with them, and in the offer they make to potential clients.

From technical experts to trusted advisors

The programmes we run help consultants to see that they can add value to their clients not just through the depth of their technical expertise but also through becoming what David Maister and his colleagues call a “trusted advisor” – someone who understands the business as a whole, who can be a sounding board and a confidante. In this way of thinking trust is partly about competence and credibility, but even more about integrity and empathy.

We get people to practise the art of listening and questioning, and doing so with a coaching mindset rather than an expert mindset, and to practise meeting a client for the first time – what kind of conversation will make it more likely that the relationship gets to the next stage? We look at the importance of seeing the client’s situation in the round – not just the technical aspects, but understanding what’s at stake for them personally, how the politics work in their organisation, and what the culture of their organisation is like. We think that a client needs to feel that the consultant gets the complexities of their context before they’ll feel comfortable letting them loose on their organisation.

We also examine what can make relationships founder – how our cognitive biases can lead us into misunderstandings, and how we can end up seeing differences in personal style and temperament as a source of tension rather than collaborative richness. We look at ways of dealing with agendas that seem to be at odds with each other, finding creative solutions to unstick problematic relationships.

Like to know more?

If you think your firm could benefit from helping your technical experts become relationship builders, take a few minutes to get in touch. 

contact us now to find out how we can help

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