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It is my (Abbie, that is) turn for the HMA Book Club – had gotten a couple recommendations and finally settled on Managing the Professional Service Firm. Our client, Brad Preber, managing partner at Grant Thornton, had it displayed prominently in his office and let me borrow his copy.

The book addresses such issues as staffing your firm, performance reviews, growth and expansion, collaboration and networking. I was most interested in the information related to new business development.

We get hired for three primary reasons:

  • We’re smart
  • We’ve done this before and have experience with similar situations.
  • We know how to do this and can deliver what the client need effectively and efficiently.

The client holds the power; it is up to the service provider to be cooperative, responsive and adaptable. It is how we will keep current clients and win new ones.

New business marketing tactics that “illustrate” your expertise (speeches, seminars, bylined articles) are more powerful that those that “assert” your expertise (brochures, direct mail and cold calls).

Where does new business come from – most firms will say from their existing clients but don’t have formalized plan to go after it. We tend to focus our efforts on “new” new business. There are some definite advantages to dedicating some time to both. With current clients, there is already a trust and a proven-track record of your abilities. New clients take some time to get to that level.

Given the regular and ongoing face time with existing clients, there need not be a ton of non-billable time spent in gauging new business opportunities here.

We can all agree that new clients bring a different kind of motivation to the work place. It is fun and exciting to start on new projects. This is not to suggest that one is better than the other, only that we should be cognizant of the opportunities that exist.

How many of you have a formal client feedback program? Maister outlines a 30-question form (pg. 85-86) discussing such things as approach to work, creativity, accessibility, keeping client informed of changes, understanding of the client’s business, openness and honesty, among others. We’ve done this a few times (should do it more often) and always come away with valuable information. And we also learn of additional opportunities within the client’s business that we might not have uncovered during our regular client meetings.

The book is several years old, but the principles discussed still ring true today.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

5 Comments

  1. Thanks, Abbie, for turning me on to a new book. I am very familiar with David Maister’s name as a professional services marketing guru.

    Now I have a reason to get to know him better.

    Anne

  2. Anne — you’ll likely find some of the stuff to reminders of what we should be doing. But heck, we can always use a good reminder.

  3. Abbie, I would love to have more discussion around generating new new business. How does one blend the old with the new ie cold calls and mixers with digital communication tools? I think this is one of the most difficult areas for small service businesses and firms. There has to be a productive plan beyond waiting for the next RFP. What say thee, oh wise one?

  4. Mimi – funny you should ask as I am 8 hours into a RFP response right now.

    Probably one of the most difficult things we have to do is prospect for new business. We all love the challenge of the new new stuff, but we should spend an equal amount of time with our current clients, uncovering additional ways to be of service to them.

    And of course, we still have to service the business that we have. So this “wise one” will continue to ponder the question and asks that others chime in as well with their thoughts.

  5. Wiccan Forum says:

    Merry Meet. I actually think so too:P I have been searching around the web for a while today, and its really hard to find anything interesting to read on blogs. Maybe thats because there are too many of those around =) But this place actually keeps catching my attention:P Great posts, and cool design ^__^. Ill be sure to give it more time from now on =]

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