Andrew Sobel, a leading authority on the skills and strategies required to build enduring client relationships, outlines the strategies needed to engage with key senior decision makers. It is essential to establish a good relationship from the get go if you are to influence these people to invest in your services. The first meeting is crucial and Andrew explains what the goals of this first meeting should be.

First and foremost it is necessary to build TRUST. Andrew explains that while it is not necessarily possible to create this trust just from the first meeting, what is important is to give the feeling that you are a person with whom the decision maker could build a trusting relationship.


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The first step to building trust is to establish good rapport with the decision maker. Classic rapport strategies include uncovering what you and the key contact have in common. This can be done even in advance of the meeting by browsing the LinkedIn profile of the decision maker. It is also important to project open body language. Secondly, Andrew highlights the importance of convincing the decision maker of your credibility. It is a question of showing rather than telling, i.e. sharing ideas, best practices, trends (with examples) rather than highlighting how expansive the organization for which you work is.

Key to engaging with the decision maker is being able to uncover THEIR issues and be sensitive to these. Obviously pre-meeting research and planning can achieve this to a certain degree. But equally important is asking open-ended questions. You need to convince the decision maker that you care about what their company is going through. Only in this way can trust be built.

Full agenda of the seminar:

  • Identifying clients with the greatest growth potential, and focusing your investment on them;
  • Becoming an Agenda Setter with your clients – helping them think through their strategic issues and plans rather than just reacting to requests for work;
  • Growing relationships by employing five growth pathways;
  • Adding multiple layers of value;
  • Promoting internal collaboration so that the right people and ideas are mobilized into each client relationship;
  • Creating a differentiated client experience


Andrew Sobel is the author of the business best-sellers Clients for Life and Making Rain, and his new book, All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships, was published in April 2009. He has advised many of the world’s leading professional service firms and financial institutions on their client development strategies.


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