Instead of seeking clients, we will selectively and respectfully pursue perfect fits—those targeted organizations that we can best help. We will say no early and often, and as such, weed out those that would be better served by others and those that cannot afford us. By saying no we will give power and credibility to our yes.

~ wwp ~

Most of us do not suffer from having too few clients. The problem with our client roster is usually one of quality, not quantity. We sometimes attempt to compensate for the quality of our clients by adding more of them; but we know that having numerous small, unsophisticated or otherwise inappropriate clients is no reparation for having the right type and size of clients.

If we are to build a lucrative expert firm then we must regain this balance of a small number of high-quality clients. Once regained, we must accept that our client base will turn over and we must understand that this churn is healthy. Our client relationships should not be life sentences.

Our Business Development Goals

Clients hire us at times of need. We generally solve the most pressing problems at the beginning of our relationships, and over time the nature of our work slides toward the tactical end of our offering. Thus, our positioning with the client changes. At some point we become less of an outside advisor and more of a partner, and then, ultimately, a supplier. Eventually we part ways. The transition is inevitable; the only variables are time and the point of departure.

The optimal engagement length will differ from firm to firm and from client to client, but we must embrace the idea that turnover is healthy, and the subsequent idea that our business development goal is to manage such turnover. If it is our desire to grow our practice, then we accomplish this by ensuring that the new clients we take in represent increased opportunity over that of those departing.

Selectivity is one of the defining characteristics of the expert. It builds credibility, reduces buying resistance and creates the conditions where it is possible to replace presentations with conversations.

A clear understanding of our goals—a small number of slowly revolving high-quality clients—makes it easier for us to adopt this selective approach. We will not win every opportunity, nor do we need to. From this we should take comfort and patiently go about finding those that we can best help in a manner that is more focused and less frantic.

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