This week a colleague shared with me an excellent heuristic to think about client acquisition (if you know who came up with it, please share so I can give the person credit).
There are 3 ways to win more clients: More, better, or different.
- Do more of what you’re currently doing;
- Do it better;
- Add something different.
This is a simple but incredibly practical framework for you to improve your business development initiatives. Here are a few comments on each one of those alternatives.
Do More Of What You're Doing
Sometimes we rush our judgment and get tempted to change focus based on worse-than-expected short-term results. When that happens, we're often lying to ourselves. We blame the tools and tactics just so we don't need to admit that we struggle with showing up and executing consistently.
I've first written about this here, exactly one year ago. When we allow ourselves to simply execute the basics consistently, we gain more experience and information. This allows us to effectively review and prioritize, change or eliminate our tasks.
If most of your leads come from blogging, are you writing every day? If your best opportunities are born out of webinars or workshops, how many have you delivered in the last couple of months? If it works, focus on doing more.
Do It Better
Successful rainmakers (partners who bring money, visibility, and opportunities to the firm) not only work hard, but work smart. I've written about it here.
Many consultants imagine that they should be constantly looking for ways to perform their tasks faster or more efficiently. I'd advise against that. From my experience, rainmakers don't obsess about efficiency but prioritization.
Once you've identified the most impactful and growth-oriented activities for the business, focus on making them even better. If it's public speaking, make your presentations more interactive and improve the visual design of your material. If it's strategic networking, create value groups or brainstorm new ways to interact with potential clients.
Add Something Different
To sell more projects at higher fees you need to increase the value (perceived by clients) of working with you. For most consulting firms and advisors, the most powerful avenue to this is focusing on differentiation.
There are several ways you can differentiate your firm and services (for the most relevant dimensions used in consulting, check this post). Choosing what you want to be associated with - and ensuring that is clearly communicated in your marketing material and sales conversations - is a great way to make competition irrelevant, leading to more projects.
What are you focusing on? More, better, or different?