The Best Future Client

Every consultant's business development sin.

This week, I heard this great saying from a seasoned partner:

"The best future client is the current client."

How many new opportunities are you generating among your current clients?

Chances are, not many. Peter Drucker said, "The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer." Most boutique consulting firms seem to forget about the second part of the quote.

For those of you who have clients you enjoy working with and capable of paying for the value you deliver, this is good news. Business development can be mostly reduced to two things:

  1. Keep delivering great work.
  2. Keep looking for new opportunities.

You do good work by solving problems, delivering on your marketing promises, getting things done, communicating and collaborating well with the client team. If you're not able to do that, you're toast. People talk, so consultants with a bad reputation don't live long to tell their stories.

But where most partners get stuck is looking for new opportunities.

How often do you do any of the following things?

  • When a question comes up, check whether this isn't simply a side-effect - and what the real issue is.
  • Explore which important but boring projects are getting ignored to favor more exciting projects.
  • Use resourcefulness to propose new solutions or some change to your services that can lead to better results.
  • Show them different ways in which you can help, which they may not be aware of.
  • Asking your clients questions that uncover more value and bigger projects.

Remember: Clients often don’t even know the extent of their problems. You are not full-time employees who are inside the company all the time. To keep helping current clients, you need to invest time and energy into finding new problems.

Luckily your client's problems are many - you just need initiative.

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