Forget the ‘Sales’ Funnel (for now)

Funnels of Flowers

Funnels of Flowers by Gerald Brazell

Too much attention is paid to the wrong dimension of business development: you need to focus on your loyal clients and not strangers.

Playing a defensive game is not chicken. It is the right thing to do.

It is perhaps stretching it too far to say ‘Once a client always a client’ but making bigger promises and holding everyone to account will keep you close to the apogee of client satisfaction.

This is no small feat.

It requires assiduous attention to every detail of:

(a) the transaction (not just at a select juncture),

(b) the process of engagement (a member’s log in area will become de rigueur), and

(c) the delivery (it’s all about the emotional experience).

Nothing is 100% guaranteed, and, indeed, the concept of perfect – or whatever asymptote you are aiming for – is not likely to help you improve. You need clients to give you honest feedback in an air of calm reflection – never easy when you have so many balls to juggle.

For many firms (make that most partners) they get bored too easily to want to refine their offering. The thrill of the chase is often the only thing that is keeping them sane. Even if they did have an appetite to do every aspect of the job with Excellence aplomb, they know that their clients would be paying for a service that most couldn’t afford. That is not to say that those lesser mortals who are challenged to pick up the slack are bound to fail, but, rather, the client’s expectations have been set so high that anything less is a disappointing second.

Making bigger promises does not mean playing the poodle fixer, but going beyond what might ordinarily be expected. Just imagine a scenario where time was not your only measure of success. Perhaps dropping into the mix how many client referrals were generated would be a better yardstick.

Standing back from the business development fray, how many firms have worked out the cost per new client win? It may be conjecture, but chances are it is ten times higher than word of mouth. This doesn’t mean you fake your guise of service delivery. No, you over-deliver every single time, even if you believe you are dealing with a less than influential player.

Making sure you can depend on your existing clients as a source of work means that you have to get closer to them. Start perhaps by dusting down that Excel spreadsheet, putting more purpose and WOW content into your newsletter and warming to the telephone, rather than seeing it as a source of stress.

Don’t take your clients’ custom for granted. It is imperative that you stay in contact, and elide from your mind the idea that once the job is complete you can close the (client) file. You have to see each client as the lifeblood of the firm, and, much like any good retailer, you need to develop a habit of reminding your clients just how good you are, even when they may not be in the market for your firm’s services (get used to creating offers).

This will mean for many you have to invest more time in correcting your paltry database, particularly the non-existent variety that lies buried in your cohort of partners. As melancholic as it may sound, when they are no longer around there is a good likelihood of your clients following suit.

If all this sounds like an icy shot of the bleeding obvious then it most certainly is – with gobs and gobs of frustration thrown in.

For me I am deeply passionate in my consulting work about making the biggest difference in the shortest possible time – isn’t that what added value is all about? But when you do nothing to address the single biggest thing that will make the single biggest difference, I am left (regretfully) with the abiding sense that you are not willing to put the muscle behind making it happen. I could of course be wrong (please tell me I am) but when you have been in existence for so long and you have such a hazy insight into your clients, it does make me wonder.

Summary

Start a workshop today called Making Bigger Promises and do more than just flesh out an outline. Look at every aspect of your service delivery and ask yourself if you are satisfied that it meets the test of Excellence – as in the best in the World (your world).

Also, back it up with a single-minded drive to get your data together, and start a process of contacting every single client with a value laden offer.

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