“Everyone Knows That Clients Don’t Know What They Want!”

At least that’s what I overheard an e-discovery service provider say at a software conference.  Being a client of litigation support service providers, the comment certainly didn’t drive me to want to use that particular vendor.  The funny part is that I actually understand why they would say that.  From my years working as a vendor, it was common for a client to need guidance, but that did not mean that they didn’t know what they wanted.  They always knew what they wanted and would let you know if they weren’t getting it!

So, now you know what not to say to clients or, at the very least, to check around for a client in close proximity before saying something about them.

What about ways to actually get a client and keep them?  Much of what is below could really come from a “Sales 101” course, but worth repeating for sales folks and really anyone who deals directly with clients.

Tips for Litigation Support Vendors to Win and Maintain Clients:

  • Build confidence and trust with your clients by listening to their needs and providing the best approach your company can offer.  If your company doesn’t offer the requested solution, help your client find a company that will (if you’ve ever seen Miracle on 34th Street, you know what I mean).
  • If you’re the front-line sales person, know your product!!  Nothing makes me want to go elsewhere more than a salesperson talking to me about their amazing technology, but not being able to answer one of my questions.  I don’t expect the sales team know everything down to the byte about the technology, but I do want them to know how their solution can help my clients, what a database is, and the difference between concept clustering and a dashboard that tells you how many documents are left to review (yep, that actually happened).
  • When a client needs a very technical answer, know your resources (please don’t just make things up)!  There are clients out there that are very technical and absolutely do understand what an application should and should not do.  So, if you’re in sales or project management and don’t have the answer immediately, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll check with my team and get back to you” or “Let me get you in touch with our expert on <whatever it is you want to know>.”  Your clients understand that you cannot know everything, nor should you.
  • Don’t be pushy.  The old saying, “the customer is always right,” still has a place.  If you give your best guidance and the client doesn’t want to follow it, do what they ask you to do.  I know, you’re probably saying, “But, I know what they’re doing is wrong and will cause them problems down the road.”  Great!  Let them know, in an informative, non-condescending way, and then move on.  If you continue to push, they may decide to use someone else the next time.  
  • When you finally get that meeting set up and you’re ready to demonstrate your software, ask the client a couple of questions:  What’s your company’s current work flow?  What software does your company use to do <insert whatever it is that you’re trying to sell here>?  Of course, listen to the answers.  But, avoid going on with your demo as usual–it’s obvious that’s what you’re doing.  Your demonstration should speak directly to how your solution will help with the current work flow or replace the software that’s already being used.  I know that there is at least one major document review tool that insists on demonstration certification for anyone that will be demonstrating it.  Just because you have that certification does not mean that you should follow the script every time.  This leads back to knowing your product.  If you don’t understand what your products can do to help your clients, you may want to reconsider being the one that demonstrates that product.
  • Be flexible.  So, your company has the best approach to culling, filtering, keyword searching, reviewing, and producing documents.  That’s fantastic!  You should get in touch with me!  Wait…the client doesn’t want to follow your approach and has actually developed what they think is the best approach?  Listen to what they have to say.  It’s just possible that they could add to your current line up of greatness.

Overall, be a partner…an extension of your client’s team.  If you say that you’re there to make your client’s life easier, prove it.  Prove it by being honest about processes, problems, prices, and time frames.  Own up to any issues that were created by your company.  Honesty and actually caring about the quality of your services can go a long way toward building a relationship with your clients!

~CAtkins

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About CAtkins Support

All opinions posted here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
This entry was posted in eDiscovery, Service Providers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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