Building your business

In today’s fiercely competitive markets, it is essential that we maximise the return on investment in client acquisition by delivering a wide range of services to every account. We will help you structure your approach to make the most of your client relationships through delivery of valuable, relevant services.

Proposal support – existing clients

We can provide expert support throughout the proposal process, including: proposal strategy to promote continuity and minimise disruption, demonstrating value delivered, client meeting preparation and debrief, document editing or writing, presentation and Q&A rehearsal, and post-decision client and team debrief.

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Process development

Developing processes to grow existing clients is essential as competitors buy market share. The processes we develop reflect our understanding of our clients’ client base and internal culture. Alternatively, you can use Never Second’s proprietary process for a quick win.

Key account management

A robust approach to managing key accounts minimises non-chargeable time whilst demonstrating that you are anticipating your client’s needs by looking at the world through their eyes. Like winning competitive bids, key account management must be led from the top.

Client care

Clients expect to be asked for feedback on the quality of our services and our people. An effective client care programme demonstrates commitment, generates testimonials and uncovers anything we need to fix. Client care makes continuous improvement a demonstrable reality.

  • 1 Only have your client’s files in front of you. This will make you look organized and prevent your client from worrying that their files will be lying around for others to see.
  • 1 Do not give presentations unless you are proposing new work or making recommendations. Save meeting time for discussions.
  • 1 Respect your client’s time – it is just as valuable as yours.
  • 1 Get the draft accounts reviewed by a colleague. Can they spot opportunities for the client to improve their business or for you to provide extra services?
  • 1 Clients will expect your recommendations to make economic sense. Always consider how you and your client can evaluate them.
  • 1 Use positive words: “invest” rather than “cost” or “spend”. Talk about “benefits”, “solutions”, “savings”, “teamwork” and “partnership”.
  • 1 Commit personal time to areas where you and your client have a shared interest, be it sporting, cultural or charitable.
  • 1 Speak the client’s language, not your own or your profession’s. If you have to use abbreviations, always define them the first time you use them. Avoid referring to section numbers.
  • 1 When you use information from another source, note the source and the date. This lends authority to your work.
  • 1 Avoid figures, unless you are making comparisons or identifying trends. Charts and graphs can make comparison easier.
  • 1 Help your client look good. Make sure you understand your client’s personal agenda.
  • 1 Understand the needs of the chief executive, the finance director and other purchasers of your services. Look for opportunities to introduce them to other organizations that can serve them. If they are looking for staff, recommend good people you know, especially from your alumni network.
  • 1 Well-phrased questions will give you tremendous insight into your client’s needs, motivations, business climate and fears. Questions might include: What are your main areas of concern? What opportunities do you see for greater efficiency in your operations?
  • 1 You have two ears and one mouth – use them proportionally.
  • 1 Recognize the anniversary of the relationship between the client and your business. Do something special to show it is a relationship you value.
  • 1 Do your homework before meetings. Read annual reports and other business information. It will show your interest in the client and save valuable time.
  • 1 Impress your client with the speed and accuracy of your response to their needs. Always work to an agreed timetable to avoid misunderstandings about deadlines.
  • 1 Set goals that you can achieve with your available resources. Then achieve them – before the deadline. Come up with more than requested for the same fee. Deliver reports, accounts and tax returns in person whenever you can.
  • 1 Arrive at least 45 minutes early to check that the equipment works and that you know how to operate it. Use the remaining time to run through your presentation and iron out any problems.
  • 1 Ask questions. Show a genuine interest in the client and the service you can provide them.
  • 1 Never rush your client by interrupting or jumping to conclusions. Pause before responding and do not be afraid to ask for clarification. This shows that you are paying attention.
  • 1 Do not get straight down to business. Take a few moments to ask about the individual. Ask about family, holidays or hobbies. Review any notes you made at the previous meeting to provide you with questions that show you remember and care.
  • 1 Tell your client what you are going to say, say it, and then tell your client what you have said.
  • 1 Send handwritten personal notes to acknowledge promotions, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other events.
  • 1 Share best practice and new ideas with your client. Remember to share soft skills as well as technical skills.
  • 1 Sit forward, make eye contact and take notes. Remember what the client says.
  • 1 Get the client’s instructions on the format, presentation and timing of reports. Ask who will be reading your report so that you can tailor its content.
  • 1 Simple words work best when you write or speak. They are more memorable.
  • 1 Be familiar with your client’s jargon and learn about your client’s products and operations. Ask your client about their business plans and strategies. Ask for a tour of their factory or office for you and other team members.
  • 1 Do not hand out too much material. It will take the client’s attention away from you. They are buying you, not your brochures and slides.
  • 1 Provide a summary, charts and tables so the client can get a quick overview. The client should be able to use the summary internally without modification.
  • 1 Read trade journals and attend trade or industry group meetings. Find out about your client’s industry. Note the names of trade journals in your client’s offices that might help you learn more about the industry.
  • 1 Send your client relevant business articles with a personal note highlighting specific points of interest. If your client receives favourable news coverage, do something special to recognize their accomplishment.
  • 1 If you are having a one-to-one meeting with a client in your office, greet the client in reception and walk them to and from your office.
  • 1 Listen out for concerns, not just facts. What is not said can be as revealing as what is.
  • 1 Tell your client if you are rescheduling a meeting for them or are somehow going out of your way. Hold meetings at the client’s place of business whenever you can.
  • 1 Spend time with your client. Meet them regularly. Visit your client’s premises instead of expecting them to come to you. Be available for informal discussions.
  • 1 Join and take part in business and trade organizations that are important to your client’s industry. This will make you more visible to your client, add to your credibility and create an image for your business as a leader in the field.
  • 1 Tell your receptionist when you are expecting a client: the receptionist can greet the client by name, which will make them feel valued.
  • 1 Finish with a soundbite that reinforces your key messages. This could be a famous quotation or a thought to ponder. If the client has not yet agreed to hire you, ask them to.
  • 1 Introduce your client to other business people at a similar level to share ideas. While you may have a peer group in your business, your client may not.
  • 1 Insist on no interruptions. Within earshot of the client, tell your PA to hold all your calls.
  • 1 Provide seminars or workshops at your client’s site to train their staff and give your own staff an opportunity for networking and development.
  • 1 Do not overwhelm the client with facts about your service. Emphasize the aspects of it that will be important in meeting the client’s needs. Give the client the chance to say yes to your service before launching into a complete description of it.
  • 1 Ask yourself what you want the client to think, feel and do. Use the answer to select two or three key messages.
  • 1 Form an ambassadors club for “friends of the firm”. Hold regular meetings to tell members about new services and opportunities. Brainstorm business development ideas with club members. Earmark a share of the extra profit generated by the club to pay for thank-you events.
  • 1 If you must use slides, never put more words on each one than you would put on a tee shirt.
  • 1 Call your client to share new business ideas. Show you are interested in helping your client to make or save money all year round.
  • 1 Have a colleague read reports (preferably aloud) to make sure that they are free of ambiguities and pomposity.
  • 1 If speaking at a dinner, stick to soft drinks and eat lightly or arrange to speak early in the evening. If you speak early, your audience is more likely to remember what you say!
  • 1 People will pay more attention to reports that are easy to read. Use white space to make your documents pleasant to look at.
  • 1 Make your client aware that they are being served well. Tell your client exactly what you are doing for them, especially if it is not obvious.
  • 1 Mix clients and prospects at tough ticket events: major concerts, sports events or playoffs. This is a great way to show your clients you appreciate them and to show your prospects how your clients feel about you.
  • 1 Send letters of praise to the directors at your client about deserving junior staff. Reward their helpfulness and build an advocate for your business in your client’s team.
  • 1 Observe your client’s body language and other non-verbal signals.
  • 1 Always prepare an agenda for meetings. Send it to the client in advance and ask the client to suggest additional items.
  • 1 If you must take a call, apologize to the client in advance. Use it positively to show your commitment to being available to clients.
  • 1 Look for opportunities to honour or recognize clients. Enter them for local or national awards such as Entrepreneur of the Year.
  • 1 Offer solutions that will help both the client and you get the results you want.
  • 1 Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
  • 1 Know the name of your client’s secretary or executive assistant. Establish a friendly dialogue with them.
  • 1 Look beyond the current project and learn how it contributes to your client’s overall goals. Look for new areas where you can help your client, even if they haven’t asked. Be creative and anticipate your client’s needs.
  • 1 Invite clients and prospects to breakfast briefings with business specialists or industry experts.
  • 1 Withhold materials at the time of your presentation. This gives you a reason to follow it up later. It also gives you the opportunity to get feedback on your presentation.
  • 1 Deliver your management letter near the end of the audit. Provide specific and relevant comments on all areas of your client’s business. Focus on substantial ideas and do not nit-pick. Follow the management letter with an offer of help in making the changes you suggest.
  • 1 Do not leave clients waiting in reception for more than five minutes. If you are unavailable, have your PA or another team member greet the client and take them to the meeting room.
  • 1 Do not make exaggerated claims – it will detract from your credibility.
  • 1 Agree what is needed, who will do it and when it will be done. Establish your responsibilities and the client’s. Make a note of what has been agreed and show it to the client.
  • 1 Bring clients together at a one-hour breakfast or lunch roundtable meeting. Orient the meeting to a specific topic and organize the agenda to encourage a thoughtful exchange. Invite a client or former client to chair the meeting.
  • 1 Cement your relationship by referring new business to your client. Ask your client to refer you to business associates, friends and others. When they do this, send a personal note of thanks and let them know how you got on.
  • 1 Hold joint seminars with your client or collaborate with your client to publish articles and make presentations at industry meetings. Remember your client has a CV to build too.
  • 1 Ask your client’s opinion on business issues, the economy, legislative developments or personal matters. Invite your client to speak at internal meetings or away-days.
  • 1 Put your client first. Make each client feel they are your most important one.


Winning new work needs structure, application and persistence.
 
To win and grow attractive clients, you must attract and retain the best people.
 

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