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Adi

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4

How do you deal with challenging clients?

Hello, as a consultant, how do you really deal with a client who always challenges your work and your hypothesis?

For instance, you spent a week to prepare your analysis and your recommendations with your team. While presenting your work, the client seems really unhappy and unconvinced. He asks about every hypothesis and every point in the slide, How would a consultant deal with this kind of situation? Should he defend his work and recheck everything ?
Thank you

Hello, as a consultant, how do you really deal with a client who always challenges your work and your hypothesis?

For instance, you spent a week to prepare your analysis and your recommendations with your team. While presenting your work, the client seems really unhappy and unconvinced. He asks about every hypothesis and every point in the slide, How would a consultant deal with this kind of situation? Should he defend his work and recheck everything ?
Thank you

4 answers

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Book a coaching with Adi

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Hey,

Touch clients is the best part of Consulting and pushes you to learn the most in my view.

Plenty of good answers by others. Some quick tips from my end:

  1. Try and learn social styles to adapt your interaction with the client depending on their style- check out this thread for plenty of tips: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-create-chemistry-with-the-interviewer-8271
  2. Practice & prepare well with your team or manager before the client meeting
  3. Set the approach of your client meeting as co-creation, collaboration & coaching. Its not you telling them what to do but both parties coming to the right answer together

All the best.

Hey,

Touch clients is the best part of Consulting and pushes you to learn the most in my view.

Plenty of good answers by others. Some quick tips from my end:

  1. Try and learn social styles to adapt your interaction with the client depending on their style- check out this thread for plenty of tips: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-create-chemistry-with-the-interviewer-8271
  2. Practice & prepare well with your team or manager before the client meeting
  3. Set the approach of your client meeting as co-creation, collaboration & coaching. Its not you telling them what to do but both parties coming to the right answer together

All the best.

I don't think that having a challenging client is a bad thing. Quite the contrary and for two main reasons:

  • Normally, if you've done a solid job you're supposed to be sure of your recommendations and they should be motivated and backed up by solids informations. As a consequence, a challenging client is the perfect opportunity to show how dilligently you did your work and how well you understood the case.
  • Someone that challenges your work doesn't necessarily do so to be annoying. For instance, I always ask a lot of questions and always challenges people statement. It's not because I wanna be an ass but because that's the only way to really understand something instead of simply trusting someone opinion without having a critical mind. But maybe it's because I was a researcher before moving to consulting.

So in order to deal with that I would do the following:

  • Take few seconds to really process the question and realize a question about your work isn't a personnal attack or a critic of your work. That is very important as most people start on the defensive when you question their work (which is an extremely bad habit)
  • Acknowledge that this question is interesting
  • Present the data, their source and the logical process that leads to your recommendation
  • State the possible alternative recommendation that one can draw from the same data and explain why you deemed them less likely
  • Ask your client about his opinion, since he now has your data and engage the discussion

If you're challenged on a part that you didn't dig enough, you should be honest and state that this was a rough estimation, since that part wasnt important and you worked with time constraint. But that you could dig more on that aspect in a second phase. This happened during our meeting last week. Client was perfectly fine with that and a new mission is already nearly sold to look some small parts of the case in more details

I don't think that having a challenging client is a bad thing. Quite the contrary and for two main reasons:

  • Normally, if you've done a solid job you're supposed to be sure of your recommendations and they should be motivated and backed up by solids informations. As a consequence, a challenging client is the perfect opportunity to show how dilligently you did your work and how well you understood the case.
  • Someone that challenges your work doesn't necessarily do so to be annoying. For instance, I always ask a lot of questions and always challenges people statement. It's not because I wanna be an ass but because that's the only way to really understand something instead of simply trusting someone opinion without having a critical mind. But maybe it's because I was a researcher before moving to consulting.

So in order to deal with that I would do the following:

  • Take few seconds to really process the question and realize a question about your work isn't a personnal attack or a critic of your work. That is very important as most people start on the defensive when you question their work (which is an extremely bad habit)
  • Acknowledge that this question is interesting
  • Present the data, their source and the logical process that leads to your recommendation
  • State the possible alternative recommendation that one can draw from the same data and explain why you deemed them less likely
  • Ask your client about his opinion, since he now has your data and engage the discussion

If you're challenged on a part that you didn't dig enough, you should be honest and state that this was a rough estimation, since that part wasnt important and you worked with time constraint. But that you could dig more on that aspect in a second phase. This happened during our meeting last week. Client was perfectly fine with that and a new mission is already nearly sold to look some small parts of the case in more details

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

Anonymous B is correct. This situation should not occur! This is because you should have kept them updated with your findings, viewpoints etc. This should be part of the process (also known as snaking).

That said, if this does occur, you need to do (and have done) the following:

  1. Prepare beforehand for any possible questions. Think through what they may ask and be prepared with answers
  2. Have many "backup" slides. These are slides that you can pull up to further defend analysis
  3. Acknowledge their question/challenge, and point out areas where they are right as well as where data/information show they are mistaken
  4. Always be polite/respectful but also firm
  5. Recognize that, oftentimes, a lot of questions can be a good thing! The worst situation is when the client sits there, eyes glazed over, and says nothing. That's when you know nothing will change! View this as an opportunity to get them on board and fully embrace it. If you answer their questions and persuade them, they will be your champion!

Hi there,

Anonymous B is correct. This situation should not occur! This is because you should have kept them updated with your findings, viewpoints etc. This should be part of the process (also known as snaking).

That said, if this does occur, you need to do (and have done) the following:

  1. Prepare beforehand for any possible questions. Think through what they may ask and be prepared with answers
  2. Have many "backup" slides. These are slides that you can pull up to further defend analysis
  3. Acknowledge their question/challenge, and point out areas where they are right as well as where data/information show they are mistaken
  4. Always be polite/respectful but also firm
  5. Recognize that, oftentimes, a lot of questions can be a good thing! The worst situation is when the client sits there, eyes glazed over, and says nothing. That's when you know nothing will change! View this as an opportunity to get them on board and fully embrace it. If you answer their questions and persuade them, they will be your champion!

Hi there,

as a cosultant you should do your best to meet the clients expectations. So in order to prevent, situations like this in meetings with even important stakeholders, i would recommend the following:

- always keep your customers informed about your approach and key findings while doing your analysis so to manage expectations

- always invole your key clients about your findings before presenting them (e.g. send presentation the day before presentation)

However, some challenge of your work isn't bad either.

Best,
Julius

Hi there,

as a cosultant you should do your best to meet the clients expectations. So in order to prevent, situations like this in meetings with even important stakeholders, i would recommend the following:

- always keep your customers informed about your approach and key findings while doing your analysis so to manage expectations

- always invole your key clients about your findings before presenting them (e.g. send presentation the day before presentation)

However, some challenge of your work isn't bad either.

Best,
Julius

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