What makes a really great firm these days? What causes them to experience a steady stream of great clients and great work that attract really talented people?
In working with professional services firms for many years, we have come to realise that there are five key areas in which the really great firms excel. We have combined them into what we are going to describe as the ‘circle of success’. When firms focus energy, time and resources on these five areas, they are rewarded with a steady flow of profitable work. The first area — having a vision and knowing which clients they want — contributes significantly to a firm’s long-term growth and success. read more
You may think your clients are faithful to your firm, but rivals are probably making advances on them.
It sounds obvious, but getting the basics right is one of the key priorities for successful client management. But you would be surprised just how many advisers seem to mess up on basic service elements. In some of these cases, the firm involved actually hasn’t done anything wrong, but has assumed what it thinks the client wants, rather than asking the client at the outset.
Price versus value
In most competitive situations the fee will be a key element in the prospect’s decision to buy. However, unless our service is a pure commodity, where the only difference between competitors is price, the prospect will be making a judgement concerning price and value. While the price needs to be competitive, our real efforts need to go into building value in the eyes of the client.
Many firms when preparing for a pitch to a client spend all their time on the presentation part of the interaction and fail to prepare adequately, if at all, for the question and answer session. This is a shame and a massively missed opportunity as it is during this time that the client will get a real feel for what it is like to engage and work with you.
Preparing for the Q & A session read more
Your firm spends thousands on building its reputation to attract the stars of the future. You invest valuable resources in the ‘milk round’. Your highly competent HR team invests time and money in the most rigorous selection process. Your partners get involved to assess candidates to ensure that they will be both a great fit (and a high earner) for the firm.
Slowly but surely you entice and enthuse the very best candidates to join.
They say “yes” to your offer! You are excited you have recruited the best! They are excited and enthused about joining your firm. They are highly motivated, ready to learn and willing to sacrifice much of their young life to build a great future for them and the firm that they already have huge respect for. read more
Many professionals we work with admit to being nervous about asking lots of questions in business development settings. Intellectually they understand that finding out about potential clients is a great way to build and deepen relationships. However, they fear coming across as being a bit like an interrogator. Quite often they revert to talking instead – trying to impress a potential client into working with them.
In other cases, people simply haven’t been training in asking really good and progressive questions. We all did when we were children. If I had a pound for every time my daughter had asked me ‘why?’, I’d be very rich. But we lose this simple curiosity as we get older. And then we add on our professional expertise and the training in knowing stuff – being right. This doesn’t encourage us to appear like we don’t know what we’re talking about. read more
What are the best ways for marketing and business development people to work together to make the most of the resources available?
When they are writing proposals and preparing pitches I often observe a tendency in professionals to keep adding more and more to their documents and presentations. The rationale being the more they say, the more convincing their offer will be.
Yet the reality (from a client’s perspective) is very different. If you have ever had to read through numerous proposals or sit and listen to back-to-back pitches you will be aware that your mind drifts as soon as the message goes beyond what’s relevant to you. read more
The answer would seem to be so obvious – so why mention it? We accept that it is a real generalisation, but at PACE we have a huge amount of collective experience working in all manner of markets and that experience convinces us that professionals are among the worst time managers in industry! Even when it comes to making sure of arriving at client / business development meetings in good time! Strange for a profession which only has its time to sell.
The outcome is that lateness becomes habitual. Internal meetings never start on time, they never finish on time, people are perpetually behind the clock. The real problems start when this behaviour is visited on the client. One client we worked with some time ago is a large insurance company. A new MD joined the organisation and early in his tenure he and his fellow directors were kept waiting on one occasion by one of the Partners from the auditors. When he ‘sounded off’ about this behaviour, one of his fellow Directors remarked that their auditor’s people were always late and that they were forever sitting around waiting for them to show up to meetings. At this point the MD charged his people with counting every minute of management time that was wasted by the auditors. When the auditors sent their next invoice to the company for time spent working on various tasks, the new MD sent his own back in response – based on management time lost through the auditor’s tardiness. read more