Most firms allow partners and associates to work across a wide range of industries. This makes it very difficult to get to grips with the complexity of the competitive pressures of each client, thereby making it hard to truly provide added value.
You can probably tell that I’m a great fan of encouraging advisors to focus on particular sectors.
I’ve developed a Client Planning Tool to help you get closer to your clients. Here are the key questions you should ideally to be able to answer:
- What business is the client in and in which geographical markets?
- What strategy does the client have for developing their business over the next 3 years or so?
- What are the key competitive pressures in the clients’ industry? (regulatory changes, new online competitors, pricing pressures etc)
- Who are their major competitors and how can we help maintain their competitive advantage?
- Who are the key decision makers and influencers as to which professional advisors get appointed?
- How well do we know them individually and how can we get to know them better?
- Which other advisors do they currently use and what do they think their existing firms could improve on?
- What are they looking for from professional advisors in terms of service – relationship, cost, service, quality, responsiveness or something else?
- In what ways does our firm have a distinctive offering compared to rival firms?
- What strategy should we adopt to develop this relationship?
It may help to carry out a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the relationship to help you answer this last question.
Some of the answers to these questions can be found from online research. But many of them can’t! You’ll need to ask the client some questions. If you’ve invested in building a relationship with the client, there’ll be happy to supply answers.
Finally, to be successful in developing client relationships, it takes persistence and a thick skin. They might say they are going to attend a seminar and not turn up. This doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep looking for those hooks.
I did a survey for a particular firm to discover that it took an average of 3 years to become a panel firm from scratch!
For the results of a survey on client relationship management with top firms, see https://tonyreiss.com/2011/11/14/latest-developments-in-client-relationship-management-in-the-professions-based-on-a-research-study/
This is an important issue to address. Please share any other insights.