Specialism is Key to Success in Winning Clients

The beauty of the Web is that it gives you unparalleled access to a welter of information.

Finding the gold at the end of the rainbow is another matter though!

When it comes to my passion – business excellence – (particularly for professional service firms), I am still astonished by how much free information exists that if applied consistently, could make a profound difference to how firms ply their trade.

Having distilled down a vast amount of information over the past 6 months, one thing has emerged as a front runner: specificity. Explain?

It is axiomatic that for professional service firms to prosper they have to have a Unique Selling (or Sales?) Proposition. Most have worked out that the starting point towards differentiation is to specialise in a practice area so that, hopefully, over time they or the people within that team become recognised as the ‘leaders’ in their field. So what’s my point?

My idea of specialisation is to refine it to such a point that you become practically the only person offering that service. An example might be a lawyer who does M&A work and does so only for pizza manufacturers who make pepperoni. S/He becomes so well recognised in this field that they almost demad to be followed except perhaps in circumstances where one competitor would not necessarily want another to know too much about their business.

The trick with this theme is to back a market or product area that has latent potential for growth or where you are not going to find a flock of people following you around, trying to ape your service offering.

When I was in recruitment I ended up being recognised as the leading consultant for recruiting sales people in the writing instruments field. Not only did this accelerate my career and commission earnings but it also ensured that I had a steady flow of referrals from candidates and clients alike who recognised that I was very likely to know of the latest positions or had the best candidature.

Next time you are doing your business planning think where you might already have a small cabal of clients, referrers or contacts where you can steal a march on your competition.

One WORD of WARNING: make sure you are passionate about your designated practice area. I loved writing instruments (and still do) and I am quite sure that this was the deciding factor behind me embarking down this road and persevering when the going got tough (as it always will). If you do not have that wide-eyed excitement and passion for your area of specialism, then what you will find is that you will quickly go off the boil.

In summary:

  1. Specialise, specialise again, and specialise with a diamond focus so that you are practically the only person operating in your chosen field;
  2. Chose an area of practice that has potential for growth. Not stellar growth but something that has shown a consistent pattern of growth over the previous 10 years;
  3. Align your practice area with you hot spots – where you know you can talk the talk and won’t give up at the first sign of rejection;
  4. Take the long term view;
  5. Look for as many areas where you can cross-sell and up-sell the firm’s services;
  6. Stay authentic. Don’t change who you are – you will quickly get found out.;
  7. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone you can about your new found love; you may be surprised with how many other people share the same passion.

18 responses to “Specialism is Key to Success in Winning Clients”

  1. Randy Pena says:

    Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

  2. Randy Pena says:

    Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

  3. Its a WordPress Theme; there are literally hundreds of them now. If you need a hand please do shout.

  4. Its a WordPress Theme; there are literally hundreds of them now. If you need a hand please do shout.

  5. Thank you, Julian.

    Under severe pressure to pay bills it can be very tempting to take whatever work comes your way. Many practitioners that I have worked with have mastered the art of generalization. You want planning? I can do that. You want sales training? I can do that etc. And they do a pretty reasonable job – certainly good enough to survive that round of debts and overdraft.

    What’s your recommendation on advising professional service firms that generalize to survive?

    Best, Robin :)

  6. Thank you, Julian.

    Under severe pressure to pay bills it can be very tempting to take whatever work comes your way. Many practitioners that I have worked with have mastered the art of generalization. You want planning? I can do that. You want sales training? I can do that etc. And they do a pretty reasonable job – certainly good enough to survive that round of debts and overdraft.

    What’s your recommendation on advising professional service firms that generalize to survive?

    Best, Robin :)

  7. Robin thanks for your kind comments. I have sent you an email. Regards Julian

  8. Robin thanks for your kind comments. I have sent you an email. Regards Julian

  9. Nice article Julian, and gorgeous blog template/header too!

    I totally agree with the niche focus you describe in this article. If you want to generate leads with ease, the more precisely you can describe your clients and address their issues the better.

    This is a contentious subject as author Guy Kawasaki describes: “Many entrepreneurs are afraid of being ‘niched’ to death and then not achieving ubiquity. However, most successful companies started off targeting specific markets and grew to great size by addressing other segments.”

    For ‘generalist’ businesses that want to get more from their marketing, my advice would be to follow the lead of companies like RSG Sanderson. Sanderson is a recruitment consultancy for professionals across a number of different sectors and role types. They have a targeted communications plan for each niche, and now write 10 different blogs! (You can read more about them here: http://tinyurl.com/33mvekr).

    Broad, scattergun communication and marketing is far less effective than targeted messages firmly focused on the specific needs of your customers. Like Sanderson, generalists could experiment with niche communication to one of the markets they serve and then move this approach forward with the others. A focused blog is a great place to start.

  10. Nice article Julian, and gorgeous blog template/header too!

    I totally agree with the niche focus you describe in this article. If you want to generate leads with ease, the more precisely you can describe your clients and address their issues the better.

    This is a contentious subject as author Guy Kawasaki describes: “Many entrepreneurs are afraid of being ‘niched’ to death and then not achieving ubiquity. However, most successful companies started off targeting specific markets and grew to great size by addressing other segments.”

    For ‘generalist’ businesses that want to get more from their marketing, my advice would be to follow the lead of companies like RSG Sanderson. Sanderson is a recruitment consultancy for professionals across a number of different sectors and role types. They have a targeted communications plan for each niche, and now write 10 different blogs! (You can read more about them here: http://tinyurl.com/33mvekr).

    Broad, scattergun communication and marketing is far less effective than targeted messages firmly focused on the specific needs of your customers. Like Sanderson, generalists could experiment with niche communication to one of the markets they serve and then move this approach forward with the others. A focused blog is a great place to start.

  11. Sonja thanks for your comments. I will check out the Sanderson blogs but for me the deeper that a business can go the more likely they are to be successful. Too many people end up being a Jack of all Trades and a Master of none. Best wishes
    Julian

  12. Sonja thanks for your comments. I will check out the Sanderson blogs but for me the deeper that a business can go the more likely they are to be successful. Too many people end up being a Jack of all Trades and a Master of none. Best wishes
    Julian

  13. Julian, just to add a few thoughts:

    Generalizing is often a symptom of lack of planning:

    a) Unclear about key target client and how they decide;
    b) Unclear pipeline strategy (acquisition and share of wallet);
    c) Lack of adequate capital to fund specialized niche development;
    d) Poor selection of target niche i.e. inadequate margins;
    e) Poor pricing – again, inadequate margins;
    f) Non-bankable point of difference perceived by decision makers.

    Just a few classic signs of the generalist.

    Best,

    Robin :)

  14. Julian, just to add a few thoughts:

    Generalizing is often a symptom of lack of planning:

    a) Unclear about key target client and how they decide;
    b) Unclear pipeline strategy (acquisition and share of wallet);
    c) Lack of adequate capital to fund specialized niche development;
    d) Poor selection of target niche i.e. inadequate margins;
    e) Poor pricing – again, inadequate margins;
    f) Non-bankable point of difference perceived by decision makers.

    Just a few classic signs of the generalist.

    Best,

    Robin :)

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  17. Tiffany says:

    Sonja thanks for your comments. I will check out the Sanderson blogs but for me the deeper that a business can go the more likely they are to be successful. Too many people end up being a Jack of all Trades and a Master of none. Best wishes
    Julian

  18. Tiffany says:

    Sonja thanks for your comments. I will check out the Sanderson blogs but for me the deeper that a business can go the more likely they are to be successful. Too many people end up being a Jack of all Trades and a Master of none. Best wishes
    Julian

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