Week 1 Challenge: Review Your Client Base and Accelerate Your Outreach
[Please note: this article, and the rest of the articles in this series, together constitute the 15 emails in the It Starts with Clients Client Growth Challenge. Please subscribe here to receive them on a weekly basis over the next 100 days]
One of the secrets to building clients for life is starting with the right clients. I lived in Italy with my family for four years, and I learned–similarly–that one of the secrets to Italian food is that the Italians always start with super-fresh ingredients. In contrast, It’s hard to make a delicious salad with rock-hard greenhouse tomatoes that you buy in the depths of winter (you know, the ones that are like golf balls…).
TIP: Choose clients who can grow with you and eventually provide valuable references and referrals.Choose clients who can grow with you and eventually provide valuable references and referrals. Click To Tweet
Many of my own clients report that their businesses really began to grow when they finally starting saying “No.” When you say no to clients that are a poor fit for your particular business, you don’t just say “no” to something–you free up your time and resources for higher-potential opportunities. Avoiding low-potential clients and doubling-down on opportunities with high-potential clients is usually a winning strategy. This is especially true with RFPs (Requests for Proposal–competitive bids).
You may be thinking, “But Andrew, right now, in this climate, I’ll take any business that comes my way.” Fair enough, and we all make compromises to support our financial health. But if things are slow for you right now, this is actually a perfect time to sharpen your client development strategy and build for the long term. Do what you have to, but remember the tradeoff–if you accept subpar opportunities today, it can weaken your brand and your longer-term financial health.
Here are some of the characteristics you should look for in your clients:
- There is a sense of urgency–they are trying to solve an important problem or capture a significant opportunity.
- They have a history of positive, respectful, long-term relationships with external providers and suppliers.
- They are focused on value, not just price.
- The executive you are talking to/working with is respected in the organization and wants to make a difference.
- They have a brand and reputation that will reflect favorably on you.
- They fit the strategic criteria you have established regarding size, industry, function, market, geography, and so on.
Your Week 1 Challenge: Review Your Client Base and Accelerate Your Outreach
Here’s the Week 1 Assignment: Complete pages 12-13 in the Growth Guide. You’ll be asked to define your key criteria for your ideal clients, and to rate the fit of your current clients. You can also click here to download this assignment as a separate PDF: Week 1 Assignment.pdf
Since time is of the essence, I also want you to focus on staying in touch with your clients and getting up to speed on their evolving priorities and needs. So here’s an additional challenge: Accelerate your outreach. Call five clients this week. Start on a personal level and ask them how they’re doing. Ask about the 3-4 key priorities they are focused on right now. If you know their business or industry well, ask how they dealing with issues that you know are affecting other clients of yours. If possible, make suggestions but frame them more as questions–e.g., “Have you thought about…Have you considered…” (PS You can send emails but phone calls are vastly superior for many reasons).
In seven days I will send you your Week 2 Challenge: Increase your recognition. Recognition leads to relationships which lead to business growth and revenue. Keep an eye out for the next email.