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Clients For Life: How Great Professionals Develop Breakthrough Relationships [Anglais] [Broché]

Jagdish Sheth Andrew Sobel

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Description de l'ouvrage

15 juillet 2002
Business consulting and related professional services represent a 350 billion dollar industry- and they're growing in a huge way. But things aren't as rosy as this figure might suggest. All too many consulting jobs, are brief, one-shot engagements- situations by which most professionals can't survive. The most pressing concern today for six million professional advisors is this: In our bottom-line era, how can I make myself stand out and become indispensable to my clients for the long haul?
CLIENTS FOR LIFE has the answers. Featuring interviews with CEOs of such leading corporations as Kodak and American Express, Sheth and Sobel, two of the field's preeminent authorities, outline a series of proven skills and techniques that seperate the extraordinary from the ordinary. Readers will learn how to build trust through consistency and reliability, balance professional independence with client devotion, practice crucial "big picture thinking" and much more.

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Chapter 1

What Clients Want

From Knowledge Worker to Wisdom Worker


The great professional helps you eliminate issues that are not a problem, and then he focuses you in on the really critical dimensions of the situation. You are permitted to be a bit confused and general. And at the right moment, the good ones ask the right questions. It's an iterative process; you don't want someone peddling a solution, who comes with an agenda -- which many do. The good adviser excels at the integration process, but he doesn't necessarily arrive at the solution for you. He knows my industry, but is broader than that. Finally, he can bring you comfort as well. Empathy, not sympathy.

Ray Smith, former chairman and CEO, Bell Atlantic


In January of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Wendell Willkie, who had lost his own bid for the presidency the year before, to visit him at the White House. Sitting in front of the fireplace in the Oval Office, Willkie steered the topic of conversation to Harry Hopkins, who was Roosevelt's most trusted adviser. Hopkins had been instrumental in helping Roosevelt clarify and achieve his objectives as president, undertaking sensitive diplomatic missions to meet Churchill and Stalin and providing sage counsel during times of crisis. Self-effacing, incorruptible, and enormously capable, Hopkins nonetheless drew fierce criticism because of his intimate relationship with Roosevelt. "Why," asked Willkie, "do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely must realize that people distrust him and resent his influence."

Roosevelt stared directly at Willkie and replied, "Someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as president of the United States. And when you are, you'll be looking at that door over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You'll learn what a lonely job this is and discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins who asks for nothing except to serve you."

The extraordinary advisers among today's professionals -- those individuals who develop breakthrough client relationships -- share many characteristics with Harry Hopkins, and they are as valued by their clients as Hopkins was by Roosevelt. Let's begin by looking at two in particular, James Kelly and Nancy Peretsman.

James Kelly: The Ultimate Corporate Troubleshooter

Management consultant James Kelly always seems to work a bit of magic with his top management clients. Having founded and led a major international consulting firm, Kelly now advises a small group of senior executives on issues ranging from corporate strategy to leadership and organization design, frequently shuttling between Europe and the United States. He combines deep expertise about corporate strategy development with a remarkable breadth of knowledge of other functional areas, such as finance, marketing, and operations, and then layers in empathetic listening, well-developed powers of intellectual synthesis, and keen judgment.

Win Bischoff, chief executive of the leading British merchant bank Schroders, has used Kelly as his adviser for eighteen years. As an investment banker and a company CEO, Bischoff is himself a master of the advice business, and a very discerning client. Talking about Kelly, he says, "What sets him apart is his genuine, deeply felt conviction; his bedside manner -- important here in Europe -- which is relaxed and nonthreatening; his empathy and listening skills; and the fact that he's able to see the big picture very clearly. Sometimes he offers specific ideas or solutions, but on other occasions he helps us arrive at them ourselves." Bischoff's praise is not surprising: over the years Kelly has pushed Schroders in some controversial directions -- encouraging it to stay out of the equity brokerage business in the United Kingdom, for example -- that turned out to be dead right for this highly successful merchant bank.

Sir Brian Pitman, chairman of Lloyds TSB Group and another client of Kelly's, echoes Bischoff's praise: "Back in the mid-1980s, Kelly and his team confronted us with an insight that proved catalytic -- that our cost of equity was higher than we thought, and we weren't earning it. This was well before 'shareholder value' became a buzzword or 'economic value added' was in vogue. He helped set us on a path to maximize shareholder value, and our market capitalization today places Lloyds TSB among the top five banks in the world."

Kelly hasn't always inhabited the heights of the boardroom, however. He vividly recalls selling accounting systems door-to-door in Harvard Square in the early 1960s, during his first few years working as a consultant for Dick Vancil, the head of Harvard Business School's accounting department. Some formative and humbling experiences -- for example, starting a European business from scratch -- helped him to evolve from a business expert to a business adviser by developing his empathy, knowledge breadth, and judgment skills.

Nancy Peretsman: A Relationship Banker Conquers the Internet

It's no accident that Nancy Peretsman, an investment banker who heads the media group for Allen & Company, was the financial adviser on $77 billion in mostly Internet-related deals during the first half of 1999 alone. In an industry where client loyalties can shift frequently and unpredictably, Peretsman commands an exceptionally loyal client base that she has developed during her twenty-year career.

A large part of her success is her ability to see the big picture. While other bankers are driving headlong into the next deal without pause, she takes time to reflect on the long-term direction of the media industry and the opportunities that may present themselves. "I operate in a somewhat old-fashioned way with my clients," Peretsman tells us. "I try to give them a world view about what's happening in and around their industries, and of the role that they might play."

Despite being a star in a galaxy known for big egos, and having been recently named one of the ten most powerful women in American business, Peretsman is remarkably down-to-earth. Instead of exercising her hard-earned right to lord over teams of associates working twenty-hour days, she still routinely rolls up her sleeves and dives into the day-to-day work of merger transactions. As we'll see later on, this has some unusual benefits for her clients.

While working in the United Kingdom on the financing of new cable companies in the late 1980s, Peretsman saw how they were planning to combine video and telephone services and thought this idea would make sense in the United States. Most of the early deals involving cable and telephone companies that she tried to market in this country failed, however, because the idea was just a bit ahead of its time (not anymore -- AT&T spent over $100 billion in 1999 to buy cable companies); but her clients have remembered her prescience at this and other moments, such as when she put her own money on the line to help finance Priceline.com, the now highly valued Internet company that lets you name your own price for airline tickets and hotels. Priceline's founder and chairman Jay Walker has said that "Nancy is the confidante of about twenty moguls...she is the last generation of investment bankers whose power is their long-term relationships."

James Kelly and Nancy Peretsman work in different fields, but each of them is an extraordinary adviser to clients, and each commands enormous client loyalty. They didn't start out their careers as great advisers; in fact, both of them can cite early difficulties in learning how to develop the long-term, broad-based relationships that they both now enjoy. But they learned from their experiences, and they developed and grew. In addition to their special areas of expertise, they've developed strong powers of synthesis and keen judgment. Like the other great client advisers we'll meet in this book, they are insatiable learners. They know how to listen. They balance selflessness with objectivity and independence. They have deeply felt convictions born of a well-developed value system. And they are able to build trust through their impeccable integrity and discretion. The result? Clients come back to them again and again.

Professional Services and Advice:

A $500 Billion Industry


Behind every great leader -- in fact, behind most successful individuals -- you'll probably find at least one great adviser. Alexander the Great's tutor and counselor was Aristotle, ancient Greece's famed philosopher and scientist. France's King Louis XIII chose as his chief adviser Cardinal Richelieu, who became the architect of modern state government; and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had the services of the trustworthy Harry Hopkins as well as the great General George Marshall. References to famous advisers in history and literature are contained in words like "éminence grise," "mentor," and "Machiavellian" which are now fixtures in our modern vocabulary.

Today, a group of over five million service professionals in a variety of fields, such as management consulting, law, banking, advertising, finance, and accounting, have largely replaced the clergymen and philosophers who once advised society's leaders. Collectively, these professionals comprise what is in fact one of the largest industries in the world with over $500 billion in annual revenue. If we include all professionals who develop client relationships, such as salespeople, the total number of individuals who manage and advise clients in the United States is close to 15 million.

Virtually all of the large service firms endeavor to develop advisory or consultative relationships with their clients, emulating those very few -- McKinsey in consulting, for example, or Goldman Sachs in investment banking -- that have a history and culture of building deep relationships. Stockbrokers are now "financial advisers"; accounting and consulting firms aspire to advise senior management, not just ...

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USA Today Everything you ever wanted to know about being the perfect consultant is in Clients for Life...valuable for the most seasoned advisor, whether a lawyer, an accountant, or marketing professional.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  24 commentaires
54 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Answers to Fulfilling a Professional's Dreams! 11 octobre 2000
Par Donald Mitchell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Every professional I know feels uncomfortable about the fact that at some point in the future they see no revenues coming in, after current assignments and contracts are completed. In private discussions, many professionals have told me how deeply they ache for the security of having long-term client relationships. Many find it difficult to attract new clients, don't enjoy that role, and know that it is time-consuming and costly.
Anyone who feels that way should definitely read this book. Primarily drawn from the experiences of the authors and of top advisors they interviewed, the answers ring true for me. Having been a management consultant for 30 of the past 33 years, all of my long-term relationships had the qualities described here.
The book outlines the characteristics that clients are typically looking for. These include:
Balancing detachment and dedication to the client's cause to act in selfless ways (you are especially warned against the 45 minute hard sell for the next assignment at the end of the current one.)
Becoming empathic with your client at such a level that you pick up on tiny, unspoken clues about what is on their minds
Moving beyond being a specialist into becoming a deep generalist so that you can help connect the perspectives of your specialty to adjacent issues
Seeing the big picture so that you can help synthesize solutions that no one else would have thought of
Improving your judgment so that you can sift the winning options from the losing ones (this section is particularly well done)
Acting from conviction by operating from your values rather than your self-interest
Having earned a deep level of trust you can draw on based on the integrity and competence you have shown in the past
The authors make these points very well by contrasting the role of experts (the one-time assignment of a specialist in a narrow area) with advisors (the broader role). For example, professionals often make the mistake of focusing on presentations and reports while clients often most value working sessions and one-on-one discussions.
There are also many examples in the book of great advisors like Gertrude Bell, David Ogilvy, George Marshall, Peter Drucker, Henry Kissinger, and Harry Hopkins. These role models help make the points clearer.
The authors also have a good section on evaluating whether or not you should want to have a long-term relationship with certain clients.
Now having praised the book, let me also point out that I disagree with the book's premise as it relates to management consulting. In my experience, it is bad for clients and consultants to focus on lifelong relationships.
Let me explain. Here are the problems from the client's point of view. First, if the consultants have done a good job, the company should at some point have learned how to do what the consultants do. Second, the firm is obviously larger than the consulting firm in most cases, and the expertise of the client should grow faster than the consultants. That means that the consultants should run out of relevant, needed expertise at some point. Third, if your clients are wildly successful as a result of your collaboration, they surpass their goals quickly and retire. As Peter Drucker has often said to me, "Don, the last person the new CEO wants to see is you if you have been close to the old CEO." The reason for that is because the new CEO wants to create her or his own mark. Peter Drucker has advised working for every other CEO in a company if you want to have a long-term relationship. Well, CEOs stay in their jobs about 7 years, and that is decling. That's not a lifetime. Finally, the time and money the client spends with you is time and money that they cannot spend with another consultant who may have expertise they need more than yours. I have seen famous, brand-name firms stay on too long in such circumstances and do great harm to their clients.
Now, let's look at the same question from the consultant's point of view. Peter Drucker's first client was General Motors, for example. Yet his biggest contributions have come in assignments for organizations like the Girl Scouts and churches, which came late in life. If he had stayed with only his first clients, even as large and interesting as they were, he would have cut off his opportunity to do his best work. I think that consultants should always be looking for where they can make the most positive contribution. That may not be in a lifelong relationship, and will usually not be.
Also, it is new clients who push you the most because you don't know exactly what is going on. When I look back on assignments, I find that I have usually learned the most from working with a client in the first 6 months. If I had stopped taking on new clients, 90 percent of the ideas I have developed would never have occurred to me.
So for me at least, this book points me in the wrong direction in pursuing the lifelong relationship. I suggest you ask yourself whether it does you or not, as well. On the other hand, it is always good to find ways to be more valuable to clients, and creating what could become a lifelong relationship through being a better advisor is commendable. The book can help you with that goal, as well.
Be a great advisor to your clients, regardless of the length of the relationship!
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Valuable guidance on an important topic 19 mai 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I am responsible for managing large corporate accounts, and this book has dramatically changed my perspectives in terms of how I view my role with clients.In Clients for Life, the authors have succeeded brilliantly at a difficult task: defining the essence of long-term, value-added relationships and the characteristics of professionals who succeed in developing them. This is by far the best and most sophisticated book I have read on the subject of client relationships. It is genuinely insightful, beautifully written, and full of entertaining, relevant anecdotes about working with and advising clients. Sheth and Sobel organize the book around the key attributes of professionals who are able to become great advisors to their clients and develop lifetime relationships with them. They describe these qualities with depth and freshness, and their model rings true. Many people talk about "big picture thinking," for example, or "integrity," but the authors actually define these things in a meaningful way and clearly demonstrate how you can improve yourself. Each chapter profiles a famous historical advisor who was especially skilled at dealing with clients. Much of what I have read on client relationship management has tended to be either simplistic and focused on "techniques" or else overly academic. Clients for Life, in contrast, is a breezy read yet very rich and thoughtful in its approach-it'll make you think hard about your own personal and professional development. I highly recommend this book to anyone who manages clients (corporations or individuals, for that matter) or large customer relationships.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Read Mitchell's Review First 16 mai 2001
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Don Mitchell's review is first-rate. I agree completely with his reasons for praising this book, and, I agree completely with his (and Drucker's) comments about so-called "lifelong relationships." If you are looking for some rock-solid advice to achieve "breakthrough" relationships with clients, Sheth and Sobel provide it. But as Mitchell and Drucker correctly point out, it is possible but highly unlikely that those relationships can be sustained indefinitely, especially now when change is the only constant and occurs at ever-increasing velocity. Give careful thought to the word "breakthrough" because it has so many relevancies to today's competitive marketplace. When in pursuit of a prospective client, first you have to break through clutter to become visible; then you have to break through other clutter to differentiate yourself from the competition; then overcome other clutter to begin the new relationship; finally, you have to break through still more clutter to sustain that relationship. (Think about juggling handgrenades in a minefield at 2 AM...during an electrical storm...while wearing a blindfold.) Sheth and Sobel offer a wealth of information as well as sound guidance. Much of what they share can also help with the formulation of customer recapture strategies. But take no one and nothing for granted. The "life" of a customer relationship should not be measured in terms of years; rather, in terms of how effectively you nourish that relationship while you have it.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Essential for any consultant. 4 mai 2005
Par J. David Evans - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As a consultant, this book helped me focus on behaviors aimed at building a long-term practice rather than simply going from success-to-success. I say this not to toot my own horn (yes, I've had failures too) but rather because most decent consultants actually do OK--clients are generally happy. We appear to succeed on a regular basis. The great consultants, however, are the ones who build vocal followings...and that's where the value of this work rests.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Important Issue with Insightful Guidance 27 août 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
In Clients for Life, the authors have succeeded brilliantly at a difficult task: defining the essence of long-term, value-added relationships and the characteristics of professionals who succeed in developing them. This is by far the best and most sophisticated book I have read on the subject of client relationships. It is genuinely insightful, beautifully written, and full of entertaining, relevant anecdotes about working with and advising clients. Sheth and Sobel organize the book around the key attributes of professionals who are able to become great advisors to their clients and develop lifetime relationships with them. They describe these qualities with depth and freshness, and their model rings true. Many people talk about "big picture thinking," for example, or "integrity," but the authors actually define these things in a meaningful way and clearly demonstrate how you can improve yourself. Each chapter profiles a famous historical advisor who was especially skilled at dealing with clients. Much of what I have read on client relationship management has tended to be either simplistic and focused on "techniques" or else overly academic. Clients for Life, in contrast, is a breezy read yet very rich and thoughtful in its approach-it'll make you think hard about your own personal and professional development. I highly recommend this book to anyone who manages clients or large customer relationships.
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