Is client relationship management enough for lawyers and accountants?

Just like charity begins at home, business development begins with your existing clients.  Yes, new client wins are sexier but it’s hard; the easiest route to new work is the people you already know.  However, when it comes to maximising their potential, is client relationship management enough for lawyers and accountants?

This may sound a bit strange.  Surely client relationship management should be a mainstay of our personal BD plans?  Of course it should but for me management is about maintenance, keeping what you have and keeping it ticking over.  Surely you’d prefer to grow?  Surely you want to get more out of your relationships rather than simply keep what you’ve got.

This is not client relationship management; this is client development.

Apologies if this looks like pedantry but if you look at what development means (and according to Thesaurus.com it means advancement, evolution, expansion, improvement, increase and progress) surely it is a slightly different perspective that, once it forms and informs the way you approach your existing relationships, will help you grow your practice.

So, what do you need to do in order to implement client development plans that will help you grow your practice?  We’d suggest you begin by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Where are you today and where do you want to be at the end of the year? 

We’ll give you a clue, both will start with a £.  Now you have a hard target to work backward from.

2. Where will the difference come from?

Which services do they buy at the moment?  Which others should they need?  What do they need more of?  The gaps are your cross- and up-selling opportunities.

3. Where are the easy wins for additional growth?

Do your clients have other businesses, subsidiaries or sister companies you don’t currently work for?  These could prove to be easy intros to arrange and you’ll arrive at these meetings with a credible reference from someone they trust.

4. How else can I help?

Added value isn’t newsletter and seminars. 

Added value is about getting into the fabric of your clients and going above and beyond to make sure your contribution to their lives/business/family is as beneficial as possible.  Get this right and it will organically open up new opportunities and increase your referral rates.

5. How can I cement the personal side of our relationship?

Any relationship with a professional adviser is based on you being able to show you can do the work (the ‘technical’) and that you’re someone the client likes to work with (the ‘personal’). 

It’s easy to fix your client development efforts on the technical but if you don’t invest in the personal as well, your relationships will never yield the long-term results you want them to.

There are of course several other questions to ask yourself while you’re putting client development plans together, but hopefully, this will get you thinking.  And of course, if you need any more help, please email us and we can find a convenient time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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