Record Bookings from Re-Thinking Client Value


The Buzz

Key lesson

Clients don't care about what your firm does, only about how you can help them.

A mid-sized professional services firm woke up to the realization their well-oiled business development process was no longer delivering the number of deals needed to maintain current revenues, much less fuel the growth the CEO believed was within reach. Renewed growth by competing firms confirmed the market was primed for growth; my client just wasn't seeing it.

A review of the marketing and business development process revealed that lead generation was almost entirely email-centric. A CRM system was in place, but few of the partners used it effectively. Individuals were not ranked, interests were not tracked, and contact schedules were haphazard. Furthermore, emails consisted of provider-centric (me-centric) bullets and a call to action of an assistant following up--often via email--to schedule a meeting.

The CEO was reluctant to move too quickly away from a process that had delivered considerable success for more than 10 years. The need to make payroll despite softening demand generated risk-aversion while simultaneously highlighting the necessity of finding a better way. He agreed to initial baby steps, followed by greater strides based on positive initial results.

We proceeded in a staged roll out that fundamentally changed the goals and operation of their "business development machine." The marketing approach shifted from me-centric ("These are things we've done" and the salesy "Do you have any needs like these?") to a value-based approach emphasizing how my client’s expertise benefits their clients' businesses.

A formal nurturing program was initiated that shifted the focus from “What can you do for us?” to “What can we do for you?” Since most individuals contacted--past clients or prospects--do not have an appropriate project when contacted, the nurturing approach introduced the philosophy that every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate expertise and value creation. Not only is the individual much more likely to have confidence in my client when a need arises, but they are happy to meet with them more often, allowing for more exploration and generally remaining top-of-mind. To support this, contacts are now ranked according to value (business potential or ability to refer) and content is identified (and generated when necessary) to support value-creating interactions. The approach shifted from "What we've done for others" to "What we can do for you."

This client is very tight-lipped about financials, but the CEO was happy to report some months later that new bookings were running at a record pace.

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