The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.22

Saturday, June 3, 2023

5 Techniques to wow your consulting clients — every time

In this article we look at the top 5 techniques that will help you deliver like a pro and wow your clients every time. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, these techniques will offer you a unique opportunity to grow and enhance your service delivery skills.


So you’ve landed a client, inked the deal and perhaps even banked a deposit. Now comes the fun part — delivering your services and getting paid for it.

Most consultants don’t have a problem with delivery. This is your area of expertise, after all, and you know what to do. But here’s the thing:

There’s a big difference between a clients saying “thank you and good bye” and a client saying “wow, that was great, we want to work with you more!”

When a client says the magic “wow” word, you not only know you’ve really delivered well — you know they will likely want more. They will speak highly of you to their peers, jump at the opportunity to provide a testimonial and even refer you to other potential clients.

Here are the top five techniques that will help you get a “wow” every time:

  1. Deliver the results
  1. Deliver on your little promises
  1. Report regularly
  1. Deliver CEO-ready reports
  1. Advance warnings

Technique 1: Deliver the Results

This may seem obvious, but in my consulting work I’ve seen that it’s just too easy  to get “too comfortable” with your client. You build up a close relationship, you talk about (and even work on) things that are not directly related to what they hired you to do, and before you know it you’re part of the family.

The problem

This is great — until it’s not. Here’s what happens:

  • You become comfortable in the relationship.
  • You deliver on a lot of stuff (but not what you were hired to do).
  • They realize you’ve not delivered what you were supposed to.
  • You’re out, and not in a good way.

Not all “comfortable” client relationships end this way. In some cases, I’ve seen (and experienced) consultants being offered a position in the client organization. And if that’s what you want — great.

But most of the time getting too comfortable—and sidetracked into things you were not hired to do—don’t end well.

What the pros do

Here’s how you can avoid the problem (and deliver like a pro):

  • Continuously remind yourself of what you were hired for (it’s part of your contract, right?).
  • When additional work shows up, amend your contract, or park it until you’ve delivered on your original scope of work.

By focusing on what you were originally hired to do, you make it clear to your client that you’re delivering results. The more successful you are at doing that, the better they will regard you.

Technique 2: Deliver on Your Little Promises

Most consulting engagements run for months (rather than weeks). As you work with your client, it’s easy to make little promises. For example: “I will send you the link” or “let me take care of that”. This is great, because you’re adding value above and beyond what you were hired to do.

The problem

These little promises are easy to make — and easy to lose track of. Make enough of these promises and you’re going to forget some of them. Forget one too many, and your client relationship suffers.

What the pros do

To avoid the little promises from slipping through the cracks:

  • Keep copious notes — especially of the promises you made.
  • Deliver on those promises promptly.

This last point is particularly important. There’s nothing like stacking up a pile of unfulfilled promises—they will nag at your subconscious and keep you awake at weird hours. Deliver promptly and get it off your list.

Technique 3: Report Regularly

The worst thing you can hear from a client is “what is happening in this project?” Suddenly you’re in a position where you have to explain, catch up, and the client is already feeling underwhelmed by your work.

The problem

Things get busy, and it’s easy to forget (or not have time for) your regular progress reports.

When this happens:

  • Your client is upset
  • You’re on the defensive

This is not a good place to be. Your relationship with your client has turned adversarial.

What the pros do

At the beginning of your engagement, set your reporting cadence. Be careful not to make this too often, though.

  • Establish a reporting cadence that makes sense for the client and the engagement.
  • Block out time in your calendar to prepare the reports.
  • Always deliver the report on time.

Regular reporting creates trust. Miss a report and you erode trust, and that’s difficult to recover.

Technique 4: Deliver CEO-Ready Reports

A CEO-ready report is quick and easy to digest. They get an overview of the project or engagement on the front page, and there’s backing detail when they need it.

The problem

There’s a lot of detail in the work we do, and naturally we want to give our clients as much detail as possible. But our clients are already busy—they don’t have time to wade through a 10-page report to find out that things are going well (or where the problems are). That’s why they hired you.

And of course it takes time to create these reports. They are crucial to maintaining good client relations, but creating them will take you away from doing your work.

What the pros do

Take the time to create a template for the reports you’re going to deliver. Personalize that template for each engagement. A good report template has:

  • A summary on the front page.
  • Graphics instead of words.
  • All the key metrics relevant to the engagement.
  • Backing details where appropriate.

Every client is different, so you will need to adjust the level of detail depending on what your client is comfortable with.

If you can, create an online report or portal where your client can view progress reports. This saves on having to create PDF’s and emailing it to everyone, and maintaining it is easier than creating a new report. Don’t forget to let them know the report is ready.

When it comes to reporting, think of all your clients as CEO’s. They will appreciate the summaries and have the details when they need it.

Technique 5: Advance Warning of Things Going Wrong

Very few engagements run perfectly smoothly. There are going to be hiccups (or worse) along the way, and you have to deal with these as a matter of course.

The problem

The worst kind of problem is when you’re unaware that things went wrong and get asked what went wrong. Worst case, this paints you as not knowing what’s going on in your engagement, and you lose trust.

Slightly better is when you know (before the person you report to) that things are going wrong.

What the pros do

If you didn’t know something went wrong:

  • Admit it.
  • Ask them what they know.
  • Go find out more and start fixing the problem.

You know something is going wrong:

  • Let them know as soon as appropriate.
  • Tell them what you’re doing (or did) to fix it.

If you’re responsible for what went wrong, admit it. Say something like “I screwed up, here are the consequences, and this is what I’m doing to fix it.”

Never blame someone else.

Remember: things will go wrong. It’s how you react to the problem that makes all the difference. Very often, this is where your expertise and experience really get a chance to shine.


These 5 techniques may seem obvious:

  1. Deliver the results
  1. Deliver on your little promises
  1. Report regularly
  1. Deliver CEO-ready reports
  1. Advance warnings

But ask yourself this question:

How many of these techniques do you use with every client engagement?

If you use all five consistently, congratulations—you’re a pro.

But if you don’t, don’t despair. Start using them now. Every time you use one of these techniques, you are elevating your consulting game. Use all five consistently, and you will be in the top tier of consultants.