It’s not them, it’s you. Sometimes you fail your client. Rather than spin it as “they weren’t the right client for us”, take it as an opportunity to analyze where things went south. Then fix it.
Do any of these ring true for you?
You Don’t know Why Your Client Hired You
There are three ways to look at a consultant partnership:
- You lead and your client follows
- Your client leads and you follow
- You collaborate.
There isn’t necessarily one right answer as each client’s needs vary.
Some may need you to take charge and direct the way. That’s why they hired you.
Some know what they want and how to get it, but are missing a key capability. A capability you have. That’s why they hired you.
Some want to share equally in the heavy lifting and have a melding of the minds. That’s why they hired you.
You Don’t Follow Directions
Going back to why they hired you: was it because they wanted product design brainstorms? Or was it because they had a very specific vision in mind and you over-delivered with too many solutions?
Know the difference between a client who is looking for a transaction and one who is looking for a creative relationship. Both are lucrative to your business, but you need to know where each client sits from the start.
You Aren’t Transparent
From testing to materials, you were on your “A” game and brought exactly what your client wanted. But they’re pissed.
They’re pissed because they were left listening to crickets as you tested various prototype assembly. It gave them nothing to report back to their team who holds them accountable for project progress.
Some clients need that “play-by-play” more than others. Determine your client’s communication style upfront: do they want to be copied on everything, or are they the “let me know when it’s done” type?
You Can’t Do It
Be upfront about what you’re comfortable with in terms of materials, procurement and production. If your uncomfortable with or can’t work with a certain medium, let them know. If you have a preference or a partnership with one particular material vendor, let them know that too.
Halfway through prototyping is an awful way for a client to find out you can’t weld.
You Broke the Chain
What deliverables were set at the beginning of the project? Was it made clear that your part in the value-chain process had a specific start and end point? Or did they think it was full end-to end?
It all comes down to one simple task: Ask. Ask. Ask. Then clarify. Then ask again. You know what they say about assumptions: they don’t make money.