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Developing client relationships – a Case Study

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Global leading management consulting firm supports their UK junior analysts to develop skills to build authentic client relationships.

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Business context & drivers for the organisation 

The junior analysts, who are highly academically qualified, have little experience in how to position themselves when talking to clients.  They’re not leading the project nor the client relationships, but they do need to request information from different people at their client’s offices. As part of their first two years as analysts they receive training in core consulting skills and as part of this they spend time understanding how to build the foundations of client relationships.  The analysts are used to being part of a team that  interviews, researchers and analyses data from their clients.  Often this leads to transactional interactions.  To grow as a consultant they must learn to build different kinds of relationships with clients at all levels. 

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Objectives/required outcomes for the client

For the firm to be able to model any business direction for their clients, they are reliant on gaining good data and much of this data comes from these junior interactions. So the better the interactions, the more reliable the data. 

We had previously worked with the firm to develop the junior analysts’ interviewing skills as part of their core consulting training, however from feedback we recognised how intertwined this was with building relationships and making connections through good communications. Together with the firm we reframed the training to focus on the quality of their relationship skills, as that is what was really adding value.  

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Interventions

Much of the training is about developing the analysts’ listening skills and how to truly listen to build better relationships.  Some of their clients may feel threatened at having a consultant ask for information about their department so building trust becomes important. We ask the analysts to think about what message the client needs to hear in order to feel more willing to engage with them, structuring the conversation is key element in this as well as knowing how to create a dialogue. 

We also help the analysts understand how to change their own perspective, helping them shift to deepen their level of reflection about the relationship.

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Outcomes  

  • Participants have a deeper awareness of how they present themselves to a client really impacts their relationship and hence the quality of their work. 
  • The analysts can see how their enhanced communication skills are needed in their next role as they progress to consultant and manager. 
  • Analysts now have a structured approach to starting a conversation with a client, although this sounds straight-forward, often it helps them overcome internal and external barriers to deepening trust and developing the relationship. 

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