If you are like many of the professional services firm partners I coach, you are under ever increasing pressure to bring new clients to the firm, to deepen relations with existing clients and to increase firm revenue. You likely excel in your professional domain and struggle with business development (BD). And even if you are good at it, you often feel torn between logging billable hours and investing in BD.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on how I was defining my target market and my niche. To help me, I used
a concept from Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. Port recommends having a “red velvet rope policy” to help keep out unwanted clients and bring in only ideal clients. Defining your ideal client and your red velvet rope policy is a necessary step in laying a solid marketing foundation for your BD success. And it’s really quite easy (and arguably fun!):
Describe your ideal client (be as detailed as possible)
- Who have you loved serving in the past? What kind of company? What kind of file? What kind of people were you dealing with? What did you like about the work?
- If you were bringing in only ideal clients (for your practice area or the firm in general), what characteristics would they need to possess in order for you to do your best work for them? Be selfish! Assume you will only work with the best of the best.
Describe your dud clients (again be as detailed as possible):
- What kind of past clients have turned you off/ shut you down/ had behaviours or issues you couldn’t tolerate? What kind of clients/ files should not be getting past your “red velvet rope”?
Once you have a clear picture of your duds and your ideals, look at your current roster of clients and categorize them as ideals, duds or neutrals. Port challenges you to fire the duds to open you up to working with only ideal clients. In theory, I really like the notion. In practice, I believe most of my coaching clients would rather phase out the duds and target their BD efforts on bringing in ideal
Well…your ideal clients are waiting. How about getting clear about who they are so you can find them?!