by Tony Vidler
Just about every adviser says they want to be growing their business and need more clients….and they also want fresh ideas; the business satisfaction of solving new problems for new people; they want to do something NEW.
So they say they want more clients plus more interesting work plus more money plus more interesting work. That’s quite an ask. So when we try to drill down to what will actually deliver this and ask whether they want new business or whether they want new clients, there is usually a delicate pause….followed by “BOTH Please“.
With a little more drilling down we often find that what advisers really want in the way of “growth” is something which is a combination of better business performance and greater job satisfaction – which are 2 quite different things of course. It often gets expressed like “I want a bigger presence in the market and to be respected“….or…. “I want my customers to value me more and give US more of their business instead of giving some to XYZ company“….or….”I just want more revenue and/or profitability while working with the same sort of clients because I enjoy working with…“.
None of those objectives need to consist of getting more clients for the practice.
Maybe “more” is an answer, but that is not necessarily the only or best one. If “more” is the right answer then getting more clients is much easier if you develop a succinct objective that identifies who you are going after, and why. Virtually every professional practice has limitations on its marketing budget, available time and staff resources, and constraints on how much can be handled rapidly in the way of on-boarding new business or new clients. Yet the majority of practices don’t zero in on who they would like “more” of, or come up with a plan for how they are going to get them.
So maybe go back a step or two…begin with a better understanding of where you are right now before trying to figure out how best to go forward.
To work out where to focus your energy and limited resources think about what you have in the way of products or services to begin with. Realistically assess what it is you can do, and do well. Then consider whether you are really after new clients, or just wish to do better with the clients that you have. This helps determine the real objective in growing the firm:
Once the true objective is clear determining the tactics which will be used to achieve it becomes an issue of
“which is most likely to work for us, and do we have the competency or budget to execute well?“.
Some tactics will work well in pursuing one objective, while not being so effective when pursuing a different one. If for example you are trying to “cross-sell more to existing clients” then it makes little sense to put enormous effort into paid advertising to strangers, does it?
Some examples of tactics that tend to work well in the pursuit of the different objectives are:
Grow Market Share
This is an abbreviated list of possible tactics to support any of those objectives for growing a practice of course, but working out what will work best for your firm really does begin with being really sure about what it is that you want, and understanding where you are starting from.
Get clear about how you define “growing” before throwing effort into tactics which will achieve the wrong results. Because a really big “wrong result” is juist getting more clients of the wrong sort.