How well do you REALLY know your clients?

It is well accepted within professional services firms that it is easier to get new revenues out of existing clients, rather than have to chase new relationships with strangers and then convert those opportunities into cash.

Virtually every professional/fee earner I have come across has always told me they know what their clients want and value as a result of an in-depth knowledge of their client, built up over a number of years. Well let’s put this theory to the test.

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Below are a number of topics covering both professional and personal details. Ask yourself if you know the answers to these key areas for each of your top connections and clients. My suspicion is you will need to get out from behind your desk on a more regular basis to find the answers you need.

As a professional

  • Preferred means of communication (e-mail, phone, face-to-face)

  • Work style (early/late in the day, weekends)

  • Name of personal assistant

  • Role models and mentors

  • Career history including positions held and major accomplishments

  • Career goals and aspirations

  • Most concerning issues right now

  • Quality of relationship with his/her boss

  • Relationships with key direct reports (and do you know them?)

  • Memberships with professional associations

  • Conference participation

  • Corporate directorships

  • Other top executives he/she associates with

  • Networks he/she is active in

  • Awards he/she has won.

As a person

  • Family background including spouse or partner, children, parents

  • Educational background

  • Formative life experiences

  • Where he/she grew up

  • Hobbies and interests including destinations, books, films, sports teams, restaurants

  • Personal issues he/she may be grappling with

  • Not-for-profit or charitable involvement

  • Personal style: introvert vs. extrovert, safety first vs. risk taker.

Many of the best routes to increased business come from leveraging your existing client base. And yet, people often know very little about their largest and most important clients.

To best leverage your relationships (cross-sell services or gain referrals), you must invest quality time to really understand the key decision makers in your top 10 to 20 clients.

Go beyond details of the business transaction and billing discussions by delving into the aspirations and afflictions currently being experienced by your clients. The extra time you invest will not be wasted.