26 November 2006

Be consistent or try and change their perceptions

A small consultant that I know had a good relationship with a client for several years and the client used him for particular kinds of work. As happens, one day the consultant suggested that his client needed some other kind of work and was surprised that his client didn't ask him to tender for the work.

His client's perceptions of the consultant's skill set were the root of the issue. Once a client has a view about what you are and what you are good at, it can be difficult to get them to change their minds. Sometimes it is worse if the consultant wins the work since the clients can look at the outputs and say "well, I know what you are saying, but you aren't a specialist in this area, so I'm still not sure".

We live in a world where perceptions guide peoples' behaviours. They become our reality, whether we want them to or not. Changing perceptions requires a steady stream of communication backed up by solid evidence and even this is not a guarantee that everyone's perceptions will be changed.

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