Do you know how valuable you are to your clients? Recently, I did a survey (very informal and decidedly unscientific) and asked everyone I knew if they knew how their clients viewed their value. Everyone answered somewhat differently, but I never got the sense that anyone was truly aware of how valuable – and hence vulnerable – they were with any client at any time. A bit scary for anyone who depends on others…as we all do. Is it possible to be indispensable to a client? I have long said that no one or nothing is irreplaceable, and I still believe that. It doesn’t mean it would be easy, but nothing is forever and nothing is permanent. That’s being said, there are things we can do to ensure our standing is as stable and secure as possible!
Here are three things you can do right now!
- Make sure you know how your clients make money. I don’t just mean the basics, but how they actually determine if they are doing well or not and if they are making or losing money. Wouldn’t you want to know how your clients are doing so you can adjust your service or product to make sure that you are enabling them to be successful?
- Find out how your clients’ clients see them. How valuable could you be if you could speak to your clients from their clients’ viewpoint? This takes your business conversation to a new level and adds you in as part of ongoing conversations. I once had a client who listed me as a member of his strategic plan because I knew the business and how his customers saw it! I actually had some deliverables for the plan and was thrilled to be in the “in” crowd. I still have him as a client, and he sees me as a long-term colleague of his team.
- Get a grasp on your clients’ competitors. It’s one thing to know who your competitors are, and it’s an entirely different matter to be able to speak intelligently and with authority on your clients’ competition.
So what do we have here? Three areas that mean you are having business conversations with your clients. Three things you can do that send the message to your clients that you are more than a “vendor” (and don’t anyone say “trusted advisor”—you know how I feel about such sales clichés). Finally, three things you can do to raise your level of value and decrease your level of vulnerability.