I’ve been AWOL, definitely MIA from this blog – a huge No-No. I know this and yet the business required so much of my time these past few months that I neglected the one thing I know people look for – information. Yes I was busy, new and existing clients, a pipeline to die for, and most importantly recreating our structure. 2012 taught me a few things – like having policies in my head was probably not a good idea, sure I communicated them (or so I thought) but how was anyone to really know what I expected if it wasn’t on paper? So it’s now on paper.
We changed how we “on-board” a client. We found that most clients had a ready, fire, aim approach to new business development and for many the idea of target markets was anyone that breathes. We revamped our Client Acceptance Protocol and it made sense to create one for each new client so our consultants could more easily stay on task. Our government contractors say,” it’s easy we just focus on this agency and that agency” and yet each of these agencies has multiple silos with separate decision makers so how do you know where to go in each agency? We’ve found that a more in-depth market review and analysis in the beginning leading to a Client Acceptance Protocol for each new client prior to pipeline development led to a stronger understanding of the client’s unique capabilities, an easier transition for the consultant to communicate most effectively with prospects and it gave the client a better understanding of our strategy.
We did a billing and invoicing policy for our clients so there are no longer any questions regarding pay structures, how it’s handled and more importantly for me who handles it (and guess what …it’s no longer me)(side question – what are the things taking up your valuable time that could easily and cost effectively be outsourced?). We updated our Client Acceptance Protocol and it’s in the hands of everyone in the office so we all stay on task when it comes to marketing and new client engagement. No longer can we choose to bring on a client if they don’t fit the mold (we call this rescuing puppies). If they don’t fit, they don’t fit and we’ll be glad to introduce them to someone else who may be able to help. In fact over the past several months I’ve given 5 opportunities to my competition – they were just a better fit.
Rescuing Puppies is the phrase my husband chose one night about 4 years ago as we were talking about a client that just wasn’t the right fit but I knew we could help them if they would just let us do our work and stop the self -sabotage. Of course all of our pets are rescues and there is definitely something in my core about helping and taking care of others, but sometimes, in business, I want to help them more then they want to really help themselves. As it turns out this particular client really wasn’t ready or willing to make the changes necessary for them to thrive. This is something we see every day with smaller companies. Almost 5 years into the business we can now spot a “puppy” a mile away and while we may have a personal relationship with the owner and we may want to see them thrive, we know the total costs will outweigh the benefits. How often do you take on a client that isn’t the right fit? What have you done to ensure your clients truly fit within your target? Where are your policies? If you’re like me you communicated, or at least thought you had communicated the policies and yet for some reason the same issues kept popping up. Many thanks to Susan Katz, the Growth Coach for helping me to realize that it was easier to get the policies out of my head and on paper then it was to expect everyone to be mind-readers.
So while I’ve been missing, it was time well spent. Look for our next blog on Prospect Rants.