Before you can attract higher value clients who are a good fit, you need to know one when you see one.
Many of my clients are saying “any paying customer is great customer these days”. While that may be true with respect to keeping your cash flow happening right now, it’s not going to help you attract the truly great customers and clients who are a better fit for you, and offer you more opportunities to increase your value to them and command premium fees.
How do you know which customers and clients will represent a good fit?
Have you taken the time to evaluate the criteria of what type of customer/client will provide the opportunity for doing work that matters to you and will have a big impact on their success?
Do you know with confidence what attributes comprise a great customer you / your company are well suited for?
More importantly, you need to know why you are a good fit to serve them in ways that matter to them enough to pay you a premium.
All of us want to work with great clients. But when your capacity exceeds your opportunities it’s hard to be picky. There’s only one way to work with great clients– you must pick them.
Here’s a checklist description you can use in your business development conversations to help you define and qualify a great client you are perfect for:
Great Clients value expertise– specifically your expertise. Great clients know you are the go-to resource for a specific solution, and they are eager to listen to your strategic advice and recommendations, and will gladly pay the higher fees your expertise commands.
Great Clients always offer opportunities for you to do great work. Great clients are making a difference in the world and they believe you are just like them. They are at the forefront of their industry. They perceive your expertise to be at the forefront as well, and that your capabilities will make a difference for their business outcomes.
Great Clients are respectful and appreciative of your contributions. They will express this to you and your staff regularly. They will inspire you and your staff to provide ever-greater results and solutions for their business success.
Great Clients are forthcoming and honest about the amount of money they have to solve their problem because they trust you. They trust that you / your company will always bring the best solution to them for the resources they have to invest. As a result they are reluctant to put the project out to multiple bidders before consulting you first.
Great Clients are loyal advocates and champions for your expertise within the client organization. They have full authority over all aspects of the engagement and remove political barriers that interfere with your ability to provide the best solutions to them.
Great Clients always pay on time and in accordance to your terms.
Great Clients recognize and are comfortable that you are making money in the relationship. Great Clients want you to be a profitable business partner, primarily so you can continue to provide them with your best thinking, and your business is sustainable over the long haul, giving them long-lasting value.
If you want to grow your business with ever greater clients, you will need to change your business development and selling strategies accordingly. You have to resist the temptation to take on clients just to pay the overhead.
In your early stage selling conversations, you should stress that you only work for clients who are a mutual good fit. If you discover, by using the criteria above, a prospective client is not a good fit, refer them to a firm that you feel would be a good fit for them. Doing so will strengthen your position should you have a future conversation with them. And besides, it’s a classy, confident thing to do.
You have to be picky if you are to attract great clients. In your business development process, it’s up to you to qualify prospects that represent the best opportunity for you to create a more profitable and enjoyable business relationships. You can do this by design rather than happenstance.
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