Client acquisition tends to be a top goal for nearly every professional service firm. A growth orientation can sometimes cause service firms to take on clients who may not be ideal. I would argue that this is not a wise path to take. When service firms work primarily with ideal clients, a few very powerful things start to happen. Here is what I have witnessed.
Their Market Position Becomes Very Clear
This makes it easy for prospective ideal clients to find them. It also shortens the sales cycle because prospects can clearly see if they are a good fit for the service provider. Ideal clients tend to self-select into dialogue.
Their Value Proposition Becomes Distinct
Service organizations that focus on a particular client niche usually do so because they have a strong story to tell people who are a part of that niche. Often the founders of the firm came out of a particular industry niche where they had expertise and a solid reputation. When the experiences of the founders are translated into a distinct value proposition, the firm wins.
Their Win Rates Go Up
Most service organizations face stiff competition, either to other service providers or to the all-dreaded inertia position. Most service buyers are safest doing nothing rather than taking a chance spending money on an intangible service. When service organizations demonstrate a mastery of the goals, opportunities and challenges of their ideal clients, they become a trusted advisor. This means they win more deals because prospects understand how they will benefit from the service provider.
When service organizations demonstrate a mastery of the goals, opportunities and challenges of their ideal clients, they become a trusted advisor.
Their Staff Project Energy And Excitement
Everyone loves a winner and service organizations who serve primarily ideal clients convey a winner’s mentality. I’m sure you’ve seen this. The staff know that what they do has a major impact on their clients. This energizes them and gives them a confidence that is highly attractive.
Sounds great, right? But this raises an important question. What does an ideal client look like? What makes an ideal client… well ideal? There are seven major qualities that we have identified that cause ideal clients to stand out:
- Impact: you deliver services that have a significant impact on their situation, usually their top or bottom line or both. There are also other types of impact, like peace of mind, goal achievement, stress reduction and a strong sense of progress toward goals.
- Budget: ideal clients easily afford your services and usually have already reserved a line item in their budget for those services.
- Profits: you earn a substantial profit by delivering these services.
- Insights: you understand what your ideal client needs often better than they do.
- Expertise: your ideal clients want and need your specific capabilities and have limited options for acquiring that expertise.
- Culture: there is a good fit between the way you do business and the way your ideal clients prefer to be served.
- Chemistry: your staff and your ideal clients’ staff work well together with few conflicts.
When you think about the clients you serve today, how do they stack up against these attributes? How could your firm benefit from serving more clients who are a great fit?
In my next post on this topic, I’ll explore the benefits your firm can realize from focusing on ideal clients.