Ways to show you are a step ahead (and mistakes to avoid)

You may well be a nice person to work with – and very trustworthy – but the decisive reason to employ your services lie in the value that you bring to the client. This was brought home to me again recently when I was involved in a hiring process. It’s always useful to see things from the other side of the table.

When we are buying, we usually want to hire people who are ahead of us… not behind us. Yes, there are exceptions, for example when you hire a trainee. But when we hire an external service-provider, or consultant, or mentor, or communications specialist, we want someone who knows more than we do, not less!

So how do we show that to a potential buyer (or employer)?

There is one easy way, which almost everyone can do. In short, this is to educate your buyer about some of the risks and complications that they are likely to encounter, with the project they have in mind. Gently and without arrogance, you might say things like:

“From my experience of doing this a couple of times now, can I suggest watching out for the problem of X (e.g. change-control)? This gets particularly significant when…”

“How are you dealing with Y (e.g. Embedding the skills)? Most of the organisations I’ve worked with found this to be the hardest part, for example…”

When you highlight risks and pitfalls, you demonstrate you know your subject-matter and your marketplace. You provide valuable insight even before they hire you… but without having to solve the problem for them and giving away the answer. If pushed to do so, you can simply allude to the work that has to be done, in order to come up with the answer.

Now: the pitfalls. I will mention just two:

  • Trying to impress them with your expertise / qualifications / methodology / story / point of view. There are two problems with this. First, it’s all about you and not about them, so it’s less compelling. Second, you run the risk of coming across as self-interested. Third, most of the time, this is just boring to listen to! Let the conversation be about them, not about you.

  • Solving their problem there and then. You may think they will be impressed, but they usually are not. They may just decide they don’t need you. They may even resent you for spotting a solution that they did not see. Either way, if you make it easy, your value goes down, not up!

To learn more, join me for my next free webinar on How to Stay Ahead of your Clients. Sign up here: www.vco-global.com/autumnseries

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