25 March 2022

Putting Yourself in a Potential Client’s Shoes

close up image of a business man walking down stairs

It really has never been easier to access an infinite amount of talent. Especially freelance talent. Therefore, as a consultant it is important that you can put yourself in a potential client’s shoes and ask yourself what it is they are looking for? What are they buying?

Creating the perfect client experience that will not only benefit them but also advance your career, starts with being able to understand them.

Sometimes it can be hard to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, but as a consultant that is exactly what you must do. Sometimes things may not be as they seem on the surface, you may need to dig a little deeper; things might crop up that aren’t outlined in the brief.

Of course, each client will vary on their specific requirements but being able to actively put yourself in their shoes will help you to deliver on your promises and ensure you are the right fit for a project. You want to make sure you are good fit for the role, as that is what will benefit both parties at the end of the day.

To do so, let’s look at some of the thing’s clients look for in top consultants.

Why Is It So Important to Put Yourself in A Client’s Shoes?

To ensure you provide a client with a service that benefits them, it is vital to view this service from their point of view. Not only can a client’s perception of your service be critical to future work and references, but it is essential you provide the client with the best experience.

Getting to know your client inside and out will help you create a better service and experience. It will enable you to stay competitive, grow and cultivate a loyal client base and ultimately perform better.  

Arthur Turner, for Harvard Business Review states “Effective consulting means convincing a client to take some action. What supports that is establishing enough agreement within the organization that the action makes sense—in other words, not only getting the client to move, but getting enough support so that the movement will be successful.”  

By establishing trust and understanding with a client, getting the support to push necessary actions through will be much easier.

What Does It Mean to Put Yourself In A Client’s Shoes?

In terms of the day to day, putting yourself in a client’s shoes means learning their language, adjusting to their culture and the way they think. You’ll quickly find that every organisation has their own language and terminology that you may not be familiar with; the quicker you learn this the more value you can bring to your client. Learning to put yourself in a client’s shoes and making the effort to adapt to their ways of working will help to build trust and understanding from both parties.

The first steps to better understanding your client is to ask yourself a series of questions. The answers to these questions should be easily found in your project brief.

What are they Looking For?

As a consultant it is especially important to understand exactly what your client wants from you, rather than thinking about your own specific goals here you need to think about theirs. There are some general qualities that clients value, such as:

  • A good cultural fit with the internal team
  • Expertise in their specific industry
  • Previous client testimonials and success stories
  • Excellent problem-solving abilities  
  • An outsider’s opinion and ‘birds eye view’ of internal operations
  • Specialised skills relevant to the project
  • A safe zone to bounce ideas around and share accountability

Getting to know your client will help you to understand which of these qualities they most value, so you can adapt and provide them with the best service possible.

What are their Frustrations?

Understanding your client means understanding their frustrations. Once you understand this you can begin to provide valuable solutions and begin implementing them. A client’s frustrations will help to shape the entire project, feeding into their immediate targets and long-term goals.

What are their Goals?

As with frustrations it is essential you know your clients’ goals – are they looking to build an internal team? Or simply put some new processes in place? Knowing their goals will shape your approach and strategy moving forward so it is essential to establish this early on.

How Can you Help?

Every situation is different, and your role will differ from client to client. Establishing this early on is extremely important on any job. Some clients may want you to be heavily involved in the day to day whereas others might prefer you take a step back and provide an overarching view of operations.

Finding the answers to the questions above will help you better understand your potential clients and their briefs so you can choose the right projects that will provide both parties with true value. At Choix we believe in providing real value for both buyers and sellers of professional services.

Effective consulting means convincing a client to take some action - Arthur Turner, HBR