Speaking Engagements

Many firms ask Clients if they would like to speak at a conference, seminar or other event. As stated earlier, it is important to keep in touch with your existing Clients, even when no work is currently being undertaken. Many of these Clients may be seeking solutions to new problems in their business and could be unaware of your range of services.

The Client Relationship Cycle

Figure 8.1 The Client Relationship Cycle

The Client Relationship Development Process

One popular process of developing relationships with Clients can be likened to a cycle of Courtship, Engagement and Togetherness. This approach was developed during the author's consulting assignments at Marketing Improvements Group and was used successfully with organisations across many markets. For each Client, a manager is usually appointed who is responsible for orchestrating the team through these stages, as shown in Figure 8.1. As will be seen later, this process paves the way to developing higher levels of Client trust. Let's look at the content of each stage.

The cycle follows a series of action steps to take people through the implementation process.

Courtship

Prepare for the relationship

• Assess the desire within the firm and the Client to have a relationship beyond just transactional.

• Prepare a Strategic Client Plan.

• Raise awareness within the Client.

• Identify and map the decision makers and influencers within the Client.

Select each other

• Gather information.

• Establish growth potential.

• Select each other with a view to developing a higher level of trust.

Engagement

Agree the desired level for the relationship

• Consider various relationship levels (see types of relationship in Table 8.1).

• Confirm the current level.

• Select desired level.

• Identify the gaps between the current and planned relationship.

Document the relationship

• Share a common starting point and vision.

• Identify the champions in each organisation.

• Set broad objectives.

• Establish success measures.

Togetherness

Developthe relationship

• Prepare a joint business plan.

• Develop actions.

• Implement actions.

Review progress ofthe relationship

• Monitor outcomes.

• Review objectives.

• Agree the way forward.

• Celebrate relationship development.

Types of Client Relationship

Given a firm's desire to retain specific Clients and develop relationship strength and longevity it is useful to review the possible types of relationship that exist and their main characteristics. From experience it is then very useful to segment Clients in this way when reviewing growth plans for the firm. Experience shows that the stronger, multi-service, relationships developed over several years are likely to be more profitable.

Most firms would agree that their aim is to become the Client's trusted adviser, but that some relationships do not move beyond transactional or multi-service. The tipping point occurs when the Client contacts the firm to discuss a new issue. The firm must recognise this unprompted 'Moment of Truth' (see Chapter 5) is it is the key to opening the door to a higher level of trust. Table 8.1 below is a guide that may assist this process. Many firms map their Client portfolio against such relationship characteristics as it serves as the basis for assigning strategic resources to manage Clients.

Table 8.1 Relationship Characteristics

Factors

Relationship with Client

Relationship development stage (see Figure 8.1)

Level of trust

Number/ type of services supplied

Typical duration (years)

Work scope

Strength of relationship

Client hospitality offered by firm

Satisfaction -Net Promoter Score Range (see Chapter 4)

Transactional.

Courtship.

Low.

One or two basic.

1-2

Basic with one or two experts.

Low: One or two key contacts.

Low.

Mainly Passives and a few Promoters.

Multi-service.

Courtship.

Growing with experts.

Several. Some annuity.

1-5+

Developing with many experts.

Medium: Many key buying contacts.

Medium.

More Promoters.

Loyal.

Engagement.

Growing with firm.

Broad range. Client contacts on new issue.

3+

Projects. Strategic advice sought.

High: Many

cross-functional

contacts.

Developing.

Mainly Promoters.

Provide

testimonials.

Trusted.

Engagement.

Trusted

business adviser.

Many value added. Regular issue meetings.

3+

Projects

Integrated

systems.

Very high.

Strong

networking.

High.

All are Promoters. Some referrals.

Partnership.

Togetherness.

Trusted

business adviser.

Broad range. Strategic.

5+

Often complex.

Very high. Collaboration on service development.

Very high.

All are Promoters. Many referalls.

Flagship.

Togetherness.

Trusted

business adviser.

Broad range. Strategic.

5+

Often complex.

Highest.

Very high.

All are Promoters.

 
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