building a partner sized client portfolio

This post is taken from a transcript of one of my recent webinars on “how to win your first client…..and then your second and third”. You can listen to the section of the recording and view the slides here Heather (HT) : existing clients liking what you do is the easiest way to win work. Then of course go to your internal firm introducers, and then the external firm introducers. If you’re in a Big 4, or a large international firm those internal firm introducers are going to often be your most important boot to market, particularly if you’re seen as a secondary supplier, i.e. tax rather than audit in an accountancy firm. Or, if you’re a consultant rather than tax or audit within a Big 4. Of course, don’t forget former colleagues, they can often be a great place of referral. Bear in mind that if you’re in a large firm, particularly a Big 4 and your business plan is going to be based upon getting work for your specialism of existing clients of the firm, you’re going to need to get the key client account managers of those clients to do some work. Those account managers are being pitched all the time to take opportunities to their clients.

How to get internal referrals from colleagues in a large firm?

How do you make sure you are at the top of the list? Remember, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible to be introduced. The worst way to do it is to go, ‘Well, I think it might help your client, but it will take a long time to do it’. That’s not going to get you anywhere. The best way to tell them is if they as an individual don’t do something, they’re going to suffer pain, i.e. your client is going to go elsewhere. Often this is where there’s a regulatory deadline that other people in the marketplace are going to be talking about. So, if there is no action there is going to be a high level of pain, and that’s the best place to be. Bear in mind that you’ve got five types of referral friction that you’ve got to overcome. Relationship friction. Do I like you and want to help you? Political frictions. It might not be the right time for this client, or it might not be the right time for me to pitch this to the client. Education. This is why it’s essential for you to act now, and this is how you identify that your client has a problem. Credibility. Can you really deliver? Time. ‘I’m too busy to set up a meeting with my client’. John, how do you spot opportunities or get your referral sources to spot opportunities for you? John Moss:  They key here is to be very, very clear about the focus of the opportunity. I hate to tell you this, but you know it; clients aren’t interested in opportunities for you. So, you’ve got to refrain your thinking to be about opportunities for them. I do think most people understand that but I do wonder whether that has changed their mind-set.

  1. Think about the symptoms that the client, and you should be looking for that tells them there is an issue or an opportunity. That’s a helpful thing to brief colleagues about.
  2. Work out and maybe write about the consequences of those symptoms, so you can see the focus is very much on the client’s situation.
  3. Very deliberately finally as part of this section, describe how you could go about fixing those issues, or grabbing those opportunities. Particularly think about not just how you as a firm, you as an individual could help, but also what could the client do to mitigate some of those things.

Your focus is all about demonstrating you understand the problem, the consequences of the problem, some of the self-help, and some of the help you might be able to give.  

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