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Clients for Life: How Great Professionals Develop Breakthrough Relationships [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Sobel , Jagdish Sheth

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Book Description

Finally, the book that all professionals frustrated with fleeting client loyalty and relentless price pressure have waited for -- the first in-depth, client-tested guide to developing lasting business relationships.

What separates extraordinary professionals from ordinary ones? Why are some professionals always drawn into their clients' inner circle of advisers, while others are employed on a one-shot basis and treated like vendors? Based on groundbreaking research, Clients for Life sets forth a comprehensive framework for how professionals in all fields can develop breakthrough relationships with their clients and enjoy enduring client loyalty.
Drawing on insights from extensive interviews with both leading CEOs and today's most prominent client advisers, Jagdish Sheth and Andrew Sobel debunk the conventional wisdom about professional success -- "find a specialty, do good work" -- as hopelessly inadequate in a world where clients have unlimited access to information and expertise. The authors replace these tired conventions with an innovative blueprint, supported by over one hundred case studies and examples drawn from consulting, financial services, law, technology, and other fields, for how you can evolve from an expert for hire -- a commodity -- to an extraordinary adviser. Riveting portraits of both exceptional contemporary professionals and legendary advisers such as Aristotle, Thomas More, Niccolò Machiavelli, and J. P. Morgan reveal how great client relationships are achieved in practice.
Readers will learn, for example, to develop selfless independence, which tempers complete emotional, intellectual, and financial independence with a powerful commitment to client needs; to become deep generalists and overcome the narrow perspective caused by specialization; to systematically build lifelong trust; and to cultivate the power of synthesis -- big-picture thinking -- that is so highly valued by clients.
Acclaimed by leading management thinkers, Clients for Life clearly illustrates the most important attributes and strategies of extraordinary client advisers and shows how you can use them to enrich your own relationships. It provides sophisticated professionals with the tools and insights they need to reap the rewards of lifetime client loyalty.

Product Description

Review

Warren Bennis Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, USC, and author of "Organizing Genius" and "Co-Leaders" The subtle art of giving advice and counsel, and of maintaining a vibrant professional relationship with clients, has never been written about so wisely and with such significance since Machiavelli's advice to the Prince.

About the Author

Jagdish Sheth, Ph.D., is the Marketing Professor at Emory University. An internationally known speaker and authority on business strategy, marketing and relationship management, he has been a consultant at AT & T, Xerox and many other companies. Andrew Sobel is president of The Institute for Business Renewal, a strategy advisory firm. Previously the senior vice president at the renowned Gemini Consulting firm, he has advised such major corporations as Lloyds Bank and American Express.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1258 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0684870304
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New edition edition (21 Feb. 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B0X0QUK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #650,016 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Answers to Fulfilling a Professional's Dreams! 11 Oct. 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable guidance on an important topic 19 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Mitchell's Review First 16 May 2001
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any consultant. 3 May 2005
By J. David Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Issue with Insightful Guidance 27 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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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