Guide to Client Service: Volume I, ConsultingChapter three

How to Frame Recommendations

It’s critical to frame recommendations for clients in a way that demonstrates quantifiable business impact. Meaning, by implementing this particular recommendation, what will happen to the business? Will we reach a wider audience, save the client money, make the client more money, etc.?

Not only does approaching conversations in this manner show you’re invested in having an impact on the client’s most important goals, it also makes it easier for the client to buy-in to what you’re proposing.

Always map recommendations back to business objectives whenever possible.

How to frame client recommendations

Phrases like these should be a regular staple in your communication with clients:

  • “We recommend X, because of Y, in order to help you Z.”
  • “Data showed us X, which supports/negates your goal to Y, so we recommend Z.”
  • “We believe that [some idea]. If we’re right, we will [some action]. To test this, we will [tool/technology/approach].” (credit: Tim Wilson, Analytics Demystified)

we recommend, because, in order to

 

data showed us, which supports/negates your goal of, so we recommend

 

we believe some idea, if we're right we will take some action, to test this we will (blank)

How to Present Multiple Options

If you have multiple approaches on the table and are having trouble getting the client to decide, make a one-sheeter outlining all possibilities. This will concisely propose all potential options, and allow you to consult the client on which you believe to be the best option.

Approach Details Benefit Risk Outcome
Approach A
Approach B
Approach C

 

Go Beyond the “What”

In addition to framing a message to show impact, it’s also important that you go beyond the static “What”, to include the “So what?” and “What’s next?” By going a step beyond the “what”, we will not only challenge ourselves to think harder, but also become stronger partners for our clients.

Think about it from a client perspective: if someone told you that traffic to your website was up compared to the month prior, what would be your natural follow up question? Most would say: “Why?” followed by a “Great! So what’s next?”.

This goes for the inverse, too. If performance is down, you’d want to know why, and what your consultant is doing about it.

These are the questions running through a client’s mind with every deliverable you send, so it’s helpful to get into the habit of weaving these answers into presentations, emails, and conversations before they’re even asked.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making Recommendations

Use these questions as a guide when presenting any sort of information or recommendation to clients:

  1. What did we do/what are we sending?
  2. Why are we sending it?
  3. Where does it fit into the overall strategy and plan?
  4. For reporting: what changed since the last report? What are we doing/going to do/or did we do about it? And what impact would we anticipate seeing as a result?

By combining an impactful message with clear and actionable details on where and how the update you’re sending fits into the overall picture, you’ll be setting your team and the partnership up for continued success. By taking the time to provide more details up front, you’re anticipating questions (providing answers before they’re asked) as well as consulting on how you believe the client should interpret and use the information.