11 Habits for Keeping Your Clients in the Holiday Spirit

Little things matter in relationships. Even seemingly small actions and decisions communicate commitment, readiness and respect. If you are a consultant, business partner, or advisor, you set the tone for your client relationships through some basic habits.

I have seen some great consultants and business partners firsthand and received feedback from clients in many situations and businesses.  Since it’s the holiday season, here are some valuable habits for keeping your clients merry year-round.

  1. Have ideas. Always. Have ideas for creative communications, getting the project back on track, how to engage the absentee sponsor or just how to run the meeting and get the results the team needs.  Remember that you are there because you are supposed to have ideas for solving problems or grabbing the opportunity.
  2. Be 10 minutes early.  This is the most basic of habits, but it matters. Late arrivals communicate either lack of planning or lack of respect. Now, we’ve all had the freeway shutdown experience or call from school, but build in some contingency that will work 95% of the time.
  3. Listen with your nose, ears and eyes. Clients want to be heard and for you to really get their world. Yes, there’s work to be done, but soak up everything around you from their boss’ expectations, the organizational culture and their business climate. Really listening and absorbing is essential to truly knowing your client’s situation. It will definitely affect your recommendations.
  4. Stay five steps ahead of your client.  It’s not enough to be ready for today or this week. Anticipate the upcoming weeks and months and be ready for more than just the project plan. If you know that the ideal scenario may not happen – be ready with a back-up plan. Clients love it when you are way ahead of the next challenge or due date with options and plans. This builds both trust and relief.
  5. Find the way out of the maze.  The best have an amazing ability to find the path to progress or success in spite of roadblocks all around. I think of it as an ever changing maze where there is a way forward, but it’s not always apparent to the naked eye. Great consultants and partners find the way to move forward and see the maze from the top down rather than the inside out.
  6. Have a point of view and share it. Have an opinion and know how and when to share it. Valued partners don’t always agree with their clients and feel comfortable offering an alternate point of view. Also, trust brings the ability to influence and shape an even better outcome.
  7. Know what you are talking about. Do your homework and be prepared – even if you are the expert. Experience can bring too much familiarity. The best see each unique situation and apply their expertise to it – not the other way around.
  8. Know what you don’t know. Consultants and business partners are supposed to solve problems, but know your limitations. Acknowledge the shortcomings of you or your team and get some help. Likewise, if you have tendencies that emerge in all situations, manage that too. So, if you always want to act quickly, recognize the situations that need thought and conversation and hit pause.
  9. Do what you say you’ll do when you said you’d do it. So basic, but if you say you’ll send it on Monday, you have until 11:59PM and not a minute later. This little hiccup has caught many consultants and partners – especially if no reason for the delay is shared.
  10. Be a Zen Master.  The best are steady and bring calm to the work and the team. The frazzled, super busy, running behind persona doesn’t inspire confidence and is counter to improving situations. This habit can be the difference between someone who gets work done and a true leader on the project and with the client.
  11. It’s not about you. Success comes from helping your clients be successful, not from individual accolades. Keep that definition of success in mind and in all you do. The rest will fall into place.

A special thank you to the many amazing consultants, business partners and advisors who have been the example for the rest of us.

Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults. You can reach Patti on Twitter @pattibjohnson or through @people_results.