If you’re on your way to making partner, thinking about how to win your own clients is one of the main thoughts that is probably on your mind. But have you ever thought about some of the choices that you need to make that could help you with this? This article looks at 6 crucial choices that people need to make if they want to know how to win your own clients, and ultimately be successful with their business development.

How to win your own clients

What will your niche/specialism be?

If you’re ever going to come out of that established partner’s shadow, you need to be known for something, so choosing your niche needs to be the first crucial choice you make. I know in the early days, we were rewarded for being a generalist and having a little expertise in various areas, we even got booked up more often. Unfortunately, the more senior you get, the higher the charge out rate, which means that it’s not about being a jack of all trades and master of none, it’s about actually starting to develop a specialism. Decide what you want to be known for; a particular sector, a technical thing, technical and a sector, a particular size of company (big corporate, FTSE 350, AIM-listed), a particular type of business? What’s your sweet spot?

What can you delegate to free up time for business development?

Getting from senior manager to director, you have to put in the hours, but getting from director to partner, you need to build a really strong established team so that you can focus on business development. I had a conversation with a newly-promoted director in a Big Four recently and he was trying to get to partner and was worried about the hours that it would take as he had a second child on the way. He thought he had to work harder and smarter but the reality was, he just needed to free up time. He had to make a choice about how much of his technical work he could delegate so that he was free to go out and win more work.

How can you tailor your marketing message to attract the right types of client?

If you take a look at the social media channels of many consultancies, you’ll see almost the same generic message of “we can help you” and “contact us if you need…” There are, however, some firms such as HFW which are very good at tailoring their message and it’s consistent. They specialise in shipping chain logistics and transportation and every piece of marketing reflects this. A clear message to your target client is key. So think about how you can tailor yours to attract your ideal client? The same goes for every article you share, every announcement you make, or post you publish – put your viewpoint on it and tailor it to your client to make it relevant.

Will you invest in your business development expertise?

So many firms just expect their senior field analysts to pick up the skill to win business by osmosis or by observing people in practice. In reality, however, this isn’t the case. You wouldn’t say to a client “just watch and learn if you need to develop this core skill set in your business.” You wouldn’t do that to a client. You’d say, “Yes, you need to actively develop the skillset, the attitude, the expertise.” It’s the same with you in business development. Invest in yourself and you’ll be successful. Can you pick a mentor that you can learn from? How can you actively expose yourself to business development situations?

Which business development activity will you prioritise?

When you really get into business development, you’ll realise that you can always do more. You can always put another LinkedIn post up. You could always write another blog. You can always speak to another existing client to see how they are. So, you need to make a choice about which activities or opportunities you will take on and what you’ll pass over. You cannot go to every networking event. You cannot be present 24/7. Most of you have probably at most a half an hour to an hour a day that you can dedicate to business development, so choose your time wisely.

Are you prepared to invest in business development for the long term?

If you’re very early on in your time with winning your own clients, you’ve got to choose whether you’re willing to play the long game. Think about it, if your firm is only winning deals and projects that are on the lower end of the scale, clients aren’t going to come and call you in for a pitch for that size of work after one meeting or a few email exchanges. You need to be willing to build relationships and to invest time rather than expecting to get an RFP from a one-off interaction. Staying close to people and being constant with your profile is absolutely key.

Successful business development is all about having the right mindset

How to win your own clients starts with mindset. Mindset is so important when it comes to business development and being successful at it, as the right mindset drives the right behaviours and the right behaviours drive the right activities and the right choices. But it all starts at mindset.

If you have the right mindset when it comes to business development, you can be sure that what you choose when it comes to these 6 crucial questions will be all in line with the direction that you want to head in. They’ll each make your business development efforts much more effective and successful too so it’s a win-win!