Always Be Prepared To Engage…
After participating in a 3-week long study on something, I was asked to be a part of a client presentation focusing on a project we are going to work on.
Being newly acquainted with the organization, my Operations Manager thought that it would be beneficial for me to become accustomed to the presentation process. This would leave me better prepared to manage the project if we closed on a contract.
Our entourage consisted of five professionals and I was the lowest person on the chain of command. Needless to say, I wasn’t expected to say much or contribute much to the presentation.
Our VP got started with his presentation and he called occasionally on our PHD resident as well as my OM to elaborate on certain areas. For the most part he covered the majority of the slides and answered the bulk of the questions.
This was not a done deal in any stretch of the imagination, the client and his staff had few tough questions and at no time we felt that we are safe. You can feel the hesitation and tension in the room.
Two hours into the presentation and after all questions have been addressed and the VP was about to wrap up the presentation, the client pauses and he said, ”I don’t mean to put anyone on the spot here but I heard from everyone except from the guy that is actually going to do the work and deliver the promises you are making”.
He looked straight at me and asked me about my background and what makes me believe that I can deliver the results he was expecting.
Needless to say, I was caught off guard for a bit but I managed to answer his questions and satisfy his curiosity. I guess the fact that I have been consulting for 14+ years and that I made those presentations myself for many years, I was comfortable in reassuring him that we are the right firm.
The point of the story is that you are never just a warm body in any meeting. Even though if you are asked to be “a fly on the wall” be prepared to jump in and get involved in the conversation when asked.
My advice to less experienced consultants is to always look confident and sound confident. If you don’t believe in yourself and your SKAs why should your client believe in you?
Our clients trust us to perform the most important transformation to their companies and they want the best of the best.
Young age, lack of experience, and limited skills can all disappear with confidence, hard work, and dedication to success.