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Clientelligence: How Superior Client Relationships Fuel Growth and Profits
by Michael B. Rynowecer
Behind every great rainmaker, mover and shaker, and leader are great relationships. In fact, replace great with superior. People who make things happen make superior relationships first. Relationships are the power source, if not the very soul, of doing good business—the kind of business where clients smile and believe your value simply dwarfs your fee.
People who sell don’t develop nearly as much business as people who develop relationships. New business flows to those individuals and companies who can move beyond a transaction to a relationship. People, especially executives, don’t want to work with the person with the best sales skills. They want to work with people who are emotionally invested in helping them and will pay significant premiums for this rare commodity.
The 17 activities within Clientelligence are proven drivers to superior client relationships. In essence, they are how clients define client service excellence and what they expect out of the providers with whom they have the best relationships. Now you can use these activities to create and maintain superior client relationships of your own and fuel growth and profits.
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The Clientelligence® Matrix: The 17 Activities
Each quadrant in this chart exhibits distinct characteristics and plays an important role in developing and maintaining superior relationships with C-level executives.
Quadrant I: Relationship Bliss
The 4 most influential activities correlated to higher profits and growth. These are the attributes around which you can truly differentiate your firm in the eyes of clients:
1. Commitment to help
Clients are drawn to those professional services providers demonstrating a level of commitment matching—or exceeding—the client’s own commitment.
Commitment to help is the most influential activity in a client relationship.
2. Client focus
Client focus is about meeting the client’s targeted outcome, not just providing the most indisputable advice.
3. Understanding the client’s business
The ability to provide your service in the context of the client’s business will most differentiate you in the eyes of C-level executives.
4. Providing value for the dollar
True value is not about lowering rates, it’s about delivering what clients value most: saving clients time, providing better outcomes than expected, increasing revenue streams, and bringing them to market faster.
Quadrant II: Price of Admission
These are the minimum requirements a professional services provider needs in order to enter into a relationship with a C-level executive. These attributes will earn you consideration for hire, but do not differentiate you or your firm enough to ultimately win the work.
5. Domain Skills
Domain skills are the most important of the 17 activities, but a poor differentiator for firms as most providers bring the level of expertise needed to fulfill the scope of work.
Quality is an important attribute most clients only notice when it’s lacking.
7. Meeting Core Scope
A project’s scope sets the expectations and boundaries of the work to be provided—and C-level executives presume you will deliver the agreed upon work.
8. Keeping the Client Informed
An absence of communication is viewed as a signal of a poor result or a professional’s lack of interest in the project.
9. Dealing with Unexpected Changes
The ability to nimbly alter course, provide new solutions, and limit the number of issues is a skill clients demand of their professional services firms.
10. Handling Problems
At a minimum, C-level executives will look to their professional services providers to accept responsibility (whether or not the provider is at fault), and provide quick solutions to the issues at hand.
Quadrant III: Relationship Builders
C-level executives see the Relationship Builder activities as nice-to-have in their professional services providers. On their own, they have minimal lasting impact, but combined with activities in the Relationship Bliss quadrant, these 5 activities help sustain and grow long-term client relationships.
11. Breadth of services
Professional services providers able to deliver multiple services leverage knowledge transfer to adopt client-focused approaches and better address client needs.
12. Advising on business issues
The ability to provide business advice separates clinical analysis from high-value, strategic counsel.
13. Regional reputation
Regional reputation is a proxy for a professional’s understanding of the intricacies in processes, requirements, regulations, competitors, and decision makers in a specific locale or region.
14. Unprompted communication
Different than keeping clients informed, unprompted communication is a deliberate, systematic effort to maintain ongoing dialogue—both related to and outside of current project work—with clients.
15. Bringing together resources
Bringing together resources isn’t about how many professionals you have, but how you leverage your resources to meet your client’s needs.
Quadrant IV: Business Magnets
The 2 activities proven to develop business with new and existing clients—and in particular, large-spending clients with complex needs:
16. Anticipating the client’s needs
Jump to a C-level executive’s top-of-mind list by knowing and delivering what they want before they ask.
17. Innovative approach
Clients are drawn to professional services providers able to bring unique, new, or creative thinking to deliver better outcomes and strategic advantages for their business.
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