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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Oct 10, 2002
How To

Consultant's Forum: Use a Pre-Consultation Worksheet Before Each First Client Meeting

SUMMARY: Are you about to meet with a new marketing consulting client for
the very first time? Stop right there! You will make a far more
powerful impact, and save a lot of wasted time, if you ask your new
client to fill out a Pre-Consultation Worksheet beforehand.
Want to impress even the most leery client right from the very first
meeting?

Rather than showing up for the meeting expecting to
learn about the client, ask the client to answer some basic
questions *before* you meet about the problems they are having and what they would like to accomplish.

When you schedule the first meeting, tell the client that you are
going to be sending over a Pre-Consultation Worksheet, that they
need to have completed, and returned to you, a day before you
meet.

Usually the first meeting just catches you up to where they are.
Perhaps they will show you creative they have used or campaigns
they have run. Instead, ask them to send those kinds of materials
along with the Worksheet.

What the Worksheet Does:

1. It establishes credibility with the client immediately. It
says that you are a professional, and you have a process.

2. You can make the most of that first hour together. Instead
of the clients leaving the first meeting hoping you come up with
something good. They will leave the meeting excited that you
already have some good ideas.

3. It organizes your thoughts. Sometimes consultants feel
pressured to "sound brilliant" from the outset, even though they
often do not have enough information. By forcing them to complete
the worksheet before the first meeting, you will have to prepare
an agenda focusing on getting what you need to know out of the
meeting.

4. If you are swamped with other clients, it gives you a cheat
sheet to remember what you are talking with the client about that
day.

5. Finally, unless you are being hired mostly to do the work
for them, it establishes that you will be expecting certain things
of them, and there will be deadlines. You are in charge of the
solution, but you know what you're doing.

The downside of getting the Worksheet is that you might be
tempted to "solve" problems before talking to them. Resist.

A Worksheet is not a replacement for a conversation, but rather a
supplement to it. The idea is to be prepared for the meeting. By
looking briefly at what they have told you (all in one place) the
solution to their problem may be patently obvious.
See Also:

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