What does he want? What are her problems?

“If you can’t answer these questions quickly and accurately, you will lose the client,” says Todd Royer, a research consultant for corporations, author, and speaker. Understanding business relationships is no different than understanding other relationships, and just as with personal relationships, understanding begins with the emotions that are tied to verbal language, Royer says.

Royer, whose company, DiscoveryTech, is located in Montgomery, will speak at the next Small Business Insight Lunch sponsored by Team Nimbus NJ on Wednesday, August 12, at 11:30 a.m., at Camillo’s Cafe in Princeton Shopping Center on North Harrison Street. The event is free, but participants buy their own lunch. For reservations contact Lorette Pruden, at 908-359-4787 or E-mail lpruden@teamnimbus.com.

Royer has spent the last two decades assisting the R&Dt departments of corporations throughout the U.S. and Europe to strategize and staff their teams. He has written one book, “Workination: Are You Fascinated with Your Career,” and is completing a second on how to improve communication in business relationships.

In addition to his books, Royer also writes a weekly online newsletter, “Career Development Weekly,” which is distributed on three continents. Royer is a 1977 graduate of Brandeis University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Promptly and correctly assessing people and their needs is one of the keys to being successful as a consultant, according to Royer. “It doesn’t matter whether you are working with the employees of a large corporation or a sole proprietor business, people are the same,” he says. “Every one of us has an emotional language that guides our words, what we say, and what we feel. Because the way our emotions connect with verbal language is universal, learning to read emotional language is the most successful way of analyzing personal and business relationships.”

In fact, he adds, if you cannot read feelings you cannot meet, much less exceed, your clients’ expectations. “You’ll always remain just another consultant.

Don’t be the expert. “In many business situations the consultant takes the posture of expertise, but that immediately puts the client in a lower position,” Royer says. In fact, giving the client the information they seek only confirms that he or she is the inferior while the “expert” remains the superior.

While giving the client the information might seem like a good idea, it is not, he says. “It makes it difficult for the client to feel that the consultant has exceeded their expectations. Now the next time he or she needs help they might call you, because after all, you did give them the answers they were looking for. But if you have just given them the information, rather than helping them to own that information, to make it their own, they will never feel completely satisfied.”

That feeling of satisfaction leads to a vulnerability in the relationship with the client that can eventually lead them to look for a new consultant. “They’ll always be on the lookout for someone better than you, so when they hear a friend say, ‘You should try so and so, that consultant is really good, he exceeded my expectations,’ they are ready to try the next person.”

Be an employee. Instead of approaching a client as an expert, Royer suggests taking “the posture of valued employee.” That means looking at yourself as if you are a senior executive in the client’s company; you are a valued colleague who is expected to think independently.

This new attitude will help a consultant develop an entirely new type of relationship with the client. “It means that you are brothers in the battle with your client, neither of you is inferior or superior, you are a valued part of a team,” he says.

Corporate crisis, personal value. All relationships are strengthened by crisis, Royer adds. “Relationships are formed when there are significant and meaningful challenges at hand,” he says. “The ongoing crisis in business is profit, how to grow the company.”

But consultants must remember that while the logo on the top of the paycheck might be that of a corporation, the real employer is a person, not a business. “While the business’ crisis may be profit and growth, your employer, the person, is concerned with values,” Royer says.

As a professional, a large part of a consultant’s job is to observe and see what kind of values each person he works with is searching for. A few of these possible values include family relationships, time, education, and personal growth. “As a consultant you need to look for the opportunity to help your clients succeed at their goals, and their goals are all about their values,” he says. “This is very different from helping the corporation to grow.”

Reading the client’s emotions means looking at the “negative hurdles that are causing their troubles. Listen when they say the words no, never, and not; these are the things that are stopping them, and these are usually tied to the emotions,” he explains.

“Read the person, learn to see what makes them click, then make that an active part of how you approach solving the problem in their business,” says Royer. The bottom line is that if you can read the client’s emotions, look at his or her values and goals and tie these into the problem in the business, you will always exceed the client’s expectations.

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