This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.
I have a client who’s a senior leader in a large consulting firm and looking hard at whether or not it’s time to go elsewhere. This isn’t a trivial move as there are many years of investment to consider (mental, emotional, financial). He’s seriously exploring his options anyway. Not surprisingly, he’s being recruited by several other companies (all competitors with his current firm). One of them made an unconventional offer as part of the courtship that’s well worth sharing here—not to mention finding ways to emulate.
In short, the competing firm basically said, “Hey, why don’t you come to our national annual meeting next month. Be our guest. Use it as a way of getting to know us better and make it part of your decision-making process.”
Above all else, my client was struck by the openness of the invitation. “My current firm would never do this,” he said.
And for good reason, if we apply conventional wisdom. There’s that phrase about the camel’s nose under the tent, implying the risk of a small act that could invite much bigger and less desirable outcomes—including competitor secrets getting revealed and misused.
Looking at this unconventionally, though, there are some unmistakable upsides. The candor is striking. So is the trust being placed in my client through the gesture. There’s also the unmistakable focus on doing whatever it takes for the right decision to get made.
My client was clear about his reaction. “Whatever happens, I’ll never forget that offer,” he said.
For good reason.
Make It Real
This week, consider opportunities you have to bring an unconventional approach to a “competitive” business situation. What would be the upside of taking a more trustworthy route?
Speaking of competition, find out what you should say about your competition when the client asks you, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates. Or brush up on collaborative approaches to marketing and business development in Chapter 11 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.
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