Anticipating Client Needs

…takes insight.

Every question the client asks is a potential gateway to additional services.  Every problem you solve and solution you deliver leads to new opportunities.  Did you hear the problem in the question? Did you see the opportunity to bring real value?  And, if so, did you seize the moment?

This skill comes natural for many.  They are those partners and managers who have a natural need to probe and uncover the issues under the surface. When they listen to clients, they are less focused on actual the words spoken and more intent on the subtle message  or agenda being conveyed.  What is the is client trying to tell me?  Reflective people never accept things at face value.

Whether you are naturally reflective and probing or not, success depends on being capable of anticipating client needs. Here are a few tips to practice for those who are insight challenged…

1.  Step back from the task at hand and reflect on what issues the client might encounter once this project is complete.  What is the next logical step or phase?

2.  Listen to the chatter and concerns the clients employees are talking about.  How can you help?

3.  When the client makes a statement or shares a situation with you, ask, “what are they really asking of me?”

4.  Schedule time regularly to think about the client needs and how you can position your firm’s expertise.

5.  Do not assume the client will connect their issues to your firms capabilities. That connection is yours to make.

6.  People do not like to admit a problem until they know you have a solution.  Be solution-oriented.


5 Client Focus Traits

Client focus involves more than just regular contact with the client.  It is the ability to anticipate clients’ needs, develop creative solutions and support the delivery of products and services. And, of course, doing each of these in a way that exceeds client expectations.

Research indicates that there are five personality traits required for strong client focus.  They are:

1.  Insight for matching business offerings with client needs. Specifically, the natural ability to reflect and think broadly on client issues and objectives.

2.  Positive view of client intentions.  It is difficult to promote client-first policies and practices if you are skeptical of the client and feel they are going to take advantage of you.

3.  Assertive nature for effectively advocating for client-focused initiatives.  Those who have assertive personalities possess the ability to influence and direct others toward exceptional client service.

4.  High energy level for championing client-focused initiatives and delivering consistently on promises made.

5.  Personal commitment to valuing the client.  This trait is less about personality and more about attitude toward the client.  Do you value the client and find meaningful ways to express the appropriate level of appreciation for their business?


Affirm the clients decision to buy

Careful not to over promise, many professionals miss opportunities for lack of assuring the prospective client of their firms ability to deliver.  You may be reserved in your manner, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be passionate about the capabilities of your firm and its fit with the client organization.  Everybody seeks to be affirmed in their decision to buy.  That’s your job.

If you believe the client is making a good choice by selecting your team and your firm, tell them so.  If you don’t believe in your products and services, why should the client?