Common known fact: it’s 8 times easier to keep existing clients happy, than it is to find entirely new clients. I’ve spent my whole career helping firms FOCUS on the right clients. So why is it so hard?
Professional services firms need key account programmes. There’s no getting away from it.
The most important clients need protecting, nurturing and investing in. They need to feel special. They need to be excited that you have exactly the right balance of constructive challenge, ideas and innovation, you completely understand (and are passionate about) making their goals a reality, and most of all – you deliver clearly defined value to their business.
But what comfort do you have that your personal revenue target will be a walk in the park, rather than an Ironman challenge? And, what if you grow your client accounts single-handed, plugging in the right subject matter experts, but personally maintaining a single point of contact for everything from scoping to invoicing across all services provided? Life can get quite complex, and for some, this means managing 100 to 200 clients.
That’s a long tail, creating a fertile environment for things to slip through the cracks.
So, how can key account principals influence such a huge personal portfolio? And, how can today’s business development principals you to FOCUS?
The tip of the iceberg
Consider the portfolio approach and unlock clients, time and revenues to focus on end of year sales targets, pipeline and plugging the leaky bucket.
Anyone that plans a blanket 3% growth across their client portfolio is going to find it hard to achieve, even in a buoyant market.
Obviously you can raise your prices, but there’s a lot more to consider if you want to maximise revenue and know what you want to keep, stop and start doing.
How much revenue is, with a solid degree of confidence, going to come in – across the different services your firm provides to this portfolio? Client by client. Group them as normal key account programmes do, eg grow/ maintain/ ignore. Plan who is (and isn’t) going to spend time with each group/ client.
How much £ churn are you expecting overall? Put a number on it. What revenue target are you chasing for the year? What’s the best way to fill the hopper with fresh clients to target?
What lies beneath the water
Now you can start the most important task – focusing on the right clients and really making an impact on their success.
When are you going to be busy pitching for new or repeat business? Map the likely month when each client will ask you for pricing/ proposal to contract for the next period. Know your busy delivery months compared to your busy pitching periods – flesh out time in between to focus on prospective business development.
Check your typical pricing and negotiation strategy for the key clients you expect to discuss commercials with – if you negotiate better to achieve a 5-10% improvement on new fees every time that’s a lot easier than finding new clients. Think about the tradables you can offer that cost you little but have significant value to the client. Consider bundling to introduce new services as a taster. Rehearse your new negotiation strategy with a more commercial colleague to ensure you don’t simply talk yourself out of a robust price and negotiation before you’ve even put it in front of your client.
Get your best clients at the heart of what you do – get ready for proposals by defining what each client values and the value you’ve helped them achieve so far. This can be done by seeking (and most importantly, acting upon and celebrating) client feedback – know your strengths and nip any issues in the bud.
Proactively seek to bring your most important clients in for an account session – discussing their business and future plans with a collective of partners to see if innovation, challenge and problem solving can be unearthed as a team. Relationships are important but clients of today want advisers who are passionately invested in their success and always on the look out to unearth fresh ideas, challenge for greater outcomes and focus on what matters most. Don’t just leave this to the key account programmes – if you have a really important client to grow, be at the center of helping them unlock more value than they thought was possible.
Spread the load – empower and mentor your more junior account team on the strategies they can use to support the accounts of mid and lower importance in your portfolio. They need to step up and manage/ spot opportunities to bring to your attention, ideally placing similar sector clients with the same person. Regularly challenge them on the insight they have developed across the accounts they are focusing on for you, help them prepare and participate with the direction they could tap into. They are your eyes and ears on your tail end accounts.
Fill the hopper – understand exactly what client credentials/ strengths you have and find similar new clients. Find more of your most profitable clients where you have a brilliant track record of delivering insight and value.
Improve your pursuit and conversion of new business – work on how you articulate differentiation, develop clearer value propositions, position your deep client-centric expertise around benefits and outcomes for them. Map your ratio of meetings to opportunities to converted sales eg how many meetings and opportunities need pursuing each month to plug the £ gap? Monthly or quarterly pipeline analysis keeps the team focused on what matters across existing clients and prospective opportunities and targets.
Want to find out more about how this can help you focus on the right clients? Contact Edler Consulting for an initial chat about unlocking client potential and focussing on the right things to achieve your personal sales target. I’m available for one to one coaching, team development and management consultancy across sales and marketing disciplines.
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