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The Benefits of Being There

Part of the appeal of consulting, for some, is never having to leave the coffee shop. Or the kitchen table. Or your bed...

And sure—if your client can make money just by dropping your name in a meeting, or on a stock tip you texted her from the bathroom, why ever leave the Master Suite?

For you, that's great. The rest of us have to get up and put some pants on. Go somewhere. Do something.

For example, every Wednesday I drive 60 miles one-way to spend the day with a small business client in the machine maintenance industry. What I do for them can be done remotely, and in fact I do sometimes work on their communications from my kitchen table.

But what I can’t do for them from anywhere except their office makes all the difference to us both.

Facetime is vital, and I don’t mean by iPhone. Most clients of a B2B consulting practice will personally interact with their own customers in sales or service on a daily basis. They make money by being where their customers are, literally, and it’s an example we do well to follow as consultants.

Beyond the simple gestures of handshake and smile (never to be discounted!), the regular office visit offers more substantive benefits.

Here are a few ways that being there can help you serve your clients.

Overhear the office chatter. What do they complain about at the coffee pot? These are the problems between the bullet points on your contract; the things they didn’t think you could fix, so never mentioned. Here’s your chance to be a hero.

Learn the lingo. Among themselves, clients speak the language of their industry. In sales and marketing for them, key words are critical and getting them right an absolute must. Take an immersion course in your client’s native tongue.

• Join the strategy meeting. No, not the one you called: the one they have at lunch. Sit down over a plate of fried catfish (your tastes may vary) and listen as they plan their next conquest. When you’re not leading the meeting, clients speak more freely and often listen better, too.

Help shape the work you do for them as an office insider.

Next time: The Benefits of Not Always Being There…

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