Posted by Todd Johnson, VP of Technology Services, Lewan Technology. The following is a manifesto of sorts based on my experience and perspectives as a client.
I may not always be right, but I will always be the client. Although I know you make money only when you sell, and I fully expect you to “sell me”, I appreciate it when you reach out even when I’m not in immediate buying mode. If you’re too pushy, I’ll probably stop returning your calls.
I free up my busy schedule to meet with you, so I expect you to be on time even if I can’t be. When I block out time and you’re late, you lose my time and eventually my trust and patience. It sets a negative tone for our time together. At times I may say “it’s OK”, but honestly I’m just trying to be courteous and move on. During meetings, I need you to be attentive. I appreciate when you send follow-ups with action items after meetings; it helps me know you’re “on it”.
I need you to be on my side. I understand that you represent only certain vendors and products. I need you to have my best interests in mind, realizing you may not always have the best solution for my needs. I need to see that you’re using manufacturers to support you in assuring me that I’m buying the right solution, not that manufacturers are using you to sell their products.
I need you to understand my priorities and my role in the organization and for our conversations to be relevant to my role and my needs. I need you to help make me look good. I understand that at times I’m merely a stepping stone to get to others in my organization with more authority; just don’t be too obvious about that or you won’t get from me what you need next time around.
You should always understand my options; essentially your competitors. One of them is to do nothing. I’m under a lot of pressure; often more than I’ll give off. At times my frustrations come out more than I’d like. Thank you for your patience.
I need you to be easy to do business with. I understand that you have paperwork requirements – so do I; let’s just not let them get out of hand. I need you to add value when we meet in a business context. I get calls from your competitors constantly, so I have to protect my time and be as efficient as possible.
I won’t necessarily openly offer up all the things I like or don’t like about you or how you or your company operates, so please ask for my feedback from time to time. Sometimes I’ll be honest and share; other times I’ll just want to move on or avoid confrontation.
I need you to act without me following up and reminding you, and I need you to communicate status. Please manage my expectations and be honest and up-front about issues; “bad news is not like fine wine”. When there are issues – and there always are – I need to know you’re working them. It’s how you handle them that makes or breaks our relationship. If I don’t hear back, I’ll often expect the worst.
You’re the expert; you do this for a living. I expect you to have a plan, use a proven approach, and leverage others in your company to succeed in what you’re doing for me. Please ask for my input, but I expect you to take the reins.
Again, I may not always be right, but I will always be the client.