Knowing Client’s Business Helps Your Business


It has certainly helped mine!

Several years ago, I was hired by a tutoring company to design their value proposition and work with their executives to demonstrably strengthen their ability to procure business. Through our relationship together we brought to the surface many of their challenges and neutralized them as they manifested.

Last year the CEO of the organization and I were having lunch together and she asked me an intriguing question; “Would you like to know why we hired you to develop our team?” I was taken slightly aback but automatically said, “Yes, I’d enjoy very much knowing why you decided to hire me.”

She said quite matter-of-factly, “It’s because we knew exactly what we were buying when we met with you. You were crystal clear with your recommendations and what our deliverables would be along with how you’d develop our team. With other consultants, I was never quite sure what I was buying or investing in, they didn’t make me feel confident in their solutions.”

Perception Is Important

I’ve thought a lot about her comment and realized I’m very sensitive to how I’m perceived as a consultant. I’ve modeled my consulting behavior closely to my doctor father’s bedside manner. With him, you always knew how the operation would go, what he’d do first, second, third, etc. He would watch his patient understand and essentially “get it;” then he’d proceed.

I asked him once why he was so tenacious with this process and he said, “I want my patients as confident as I am going into this operation. It’s part of their cure.”

The training and executive coaching I do is also based on that mentality. First, I want my clients to be confident in what I do and how I do it. But secondly, though equally as important, I want them to instill their own confidence in their clients so that they can establish a partnership, not just a vendor relationship.

And that all starts with understanding your client’s core business. Here’s why that’s important to me and my business.


Where do you see your confidence lacking when working with clients? Is it based on not knowing their business well enough? Let me know with a “reply” below. – SG


Executive Development Tip: To Coach…Drop the Fear

I’ve spoken about the importance of on-sight observation (of a direct report) to be bullet-proof when coaching.

We all as leaders need to add to this action the confidence to relationally invade an exec’s turf by articulating our observations and intention to develop them.

The risk here is that many won’t enjoy the process the first time you do it. Don’t let it stop you. Trust your good will and desire outweighing the criticism they may feel you have. Read more