Fall is when your clients are
—or should be
—thinking about next year. While they plan for the kind of 2017 they want to have, it’s time for you to lock in how you will be perceived and paid in 2017. Trusted advisors get called in more often, have higher billings rates, and grow with their clients. If you’re looking deepen and broaden your client relationships, I offer some tips below.
You can’t just say you’re a trusted advisor (plenty of people do that already). However, you might be more of one than you realize. The most enjoyable part of my role is shining light on activities firms “just do” out of habit or obligation, yet are highly valued by clients.
How a Cup of Coffee Can Increase Your Value
Try this. Take a break from thinking about the tasks you perform. Grab a cup of coffee and for a few minutes ponder the broader impact of your work. Not what you do (tasks), but what it’s like to work with you and what your work enables the client to do (impact).
I did this with an attorney at a mid-sized firm who told me he was “just like lots of other lawyers.” A few minutes of gentle probing brought out stories of clients rescued from difficult situations, others steered away from bad choices, and a few that seek his counsel on issues far beyond his practice area. I bet his clients don’t describe him as “just like lots of other lawyers.”
Instead of thinking how important your work was to that succession plan, think about how important the succession plan is to the overall business and its stakeholders. Those contracts you drafted may be the linchpin for growing your client’s business. Your client’s competitiveness may depend on that employee benefit plan you designed or administer. If a client sees a new building as a source of revenue rather than merely a structure, constructing the building played a critical role in the client’s new source of revenue.
Getting clients to see you through a wide-angle lens grows billings, shortens sales cycles, and boosts profitability using your current sales skills. But first, you must see your client’s business through a wide-angle lens.
Act to Increase Billings in 2017
As you meet with your clients to discuss 2017 planning, reserve a bit of time to discuss the extended impact you have on their business—and on them as individuals. Ask, don’t tell. Be inquisitive and encourage them to use emotive words. Push yourself to see your firm through their eyes. It’ll make you better at whatever you do, and more valuable to your clients. Trust me, your clients will think more highly of you just for asking.
If I can help you or a colleague think through these issues, don’t hesitant to invite me into the discussion. The first conversation comes without cost or obligation.
For more information on how I achieve results, read about the Strategic Marketing 3.0 framework.
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