Most professionals are on a journey, starting as an expert for hire who offers information and expertise to clients on a transactional basis, and ending as a trusted adviser who develops collaborative relationships with clients and provides insight rather than just information, according to Jagdish Sheth and Andrew Sobel in their book Clients for Life: How Great Professionals Develop Breakthrough Relationships.
The book goes on to discuss the characteristics of a successful adviser, the importance of balancing detachment with dedication, the use of empathy to understand what clients really mean, the advantages of growing a broad general knowledge rather than just a narrow field of expertise, the significance of big-picture thinking rather than just concentrating on the details, developing good judgment, having a strong set of personal values, creating trust through integrity, and how to avoid common pitfalls in client relationships.
Because the book aims to be relevant to a very broad range of professionals, from lawyers to advertising executives to sales executives, the nature of the advice given seems very general. Whilst there are some similarities between lawyers and sales executives when it comes to building client relationships, there are also many important differences. Notwithstanding the generality of the book, most professionals would find considerable benefit in reading it. The technical skills involved in providing expertise to clients are usually very different from the relational skills required to keep clients loyal, and the book refocuses professionals on the importance of those relational skills.