Communicate – Communication is a two way process: always seek to understand BEFORE you try to be understood. You should use many forms of communication: calls, email and face-to-face, always assuming there will be an external audience.
Communication by its very nature is an exchange.
From experience, a customer will sometimes ask for assistance without explaining the underlying issues or concerns. Every discussion presents the possibility of miss-communication. We should ask to be“brought in” to the customer’s decision-making process. While speed is sometimes of the essence,understanding the circumstances of the need and solution provides two benefits.
First, we gain a better understanding of the “why”behind the problem. By following the thought process from challenge to conceived solution and verifying the validity of each assumption and conclusion we help the customer vet the issue to the fullest extent. The very process of understanding the objective allows the consultant to focus on a very specific target. Missing the desired results only serves to increase costs and chip away at the customer’s trust in our advice. Hitting the target provides opportunity for expanded profits for the customer and for us into the future.
Second, as the cliche goes, two heads are better than one. Fully understanding the desired result allows the consultant to influence the “how” of the solution. By feeding on each other’s ideas, the customer and consultant may discover many unconsidered options. The ensuing process of eliminating the majority of these options actually directs the team to the best solutions. This can produce a better result with the same, or even less effort. The customer and the consultant ultimately come to agreement on the steps which should betaken to deliver the exact solution desired.
If our understanding of the why points the consultantto a different conclusion, she owes it to the customer to communicate herconcerns regarding the achievement of the value sought. Of course, the customer’s decision willprevail, but she has been the trusted advisor the customer will call the nexttime he needs to implement a value proposition.