We recognize that relationships drive revenues. Building a cross functional client program focused on developing strong, long-term relationships with contacts in target companies will grow revenue. “The key to creating a lasting strategy and thus customer loyalty, is to have the processes and procedures in place to be consistent.”
Delivering well on your client commitments requires the disciplined internal coordination of a dedicated client team. Effective client team management works best by having a cross practice group structure and strategy, a flexible account plan, client-specific goals and a quality service delivery program in place. These components evolve and change as the account grows, but the core framework is sustainable through all stages of client development.
Clients expect and assume you are operating in a client team structure. The benefits of doing so are increased collaboration, efficiency, seamless service, and the opportunity to obtain business and industry-specific expertise. This vertical knowledge enables individuals to spot trends and offer solutions. Furthermore, a coordinated, communicative client team offers a better opportunity to cross-sell your firm’s services, resulting in better penetration and thus higher client retention rates.
Additional benefits include: comprehensive succession planning and efficient communication channels. An account-specific relationship strategy for mentorship and growth allows for more extensive firm succession planning. Further, functioning as a team allows you to share increasingly complex and continuous information in a more efficient and effective way.
Client teams is seen as a key differentiator in the marketplace and creates client loyalty. However, the most important reason to be operating in a client team structure is that your clients are doing it and expect you to be operating in the same manner.
Gather client feedback, financial analytics and information from relationship partners.
Consider practice group or service line penetration, number of relationships, current and future revenue potential, industry and client growth or stagnation etc.
Assign Account Leads
Each client should be assigned an overall relationship partner, in addition to service line leads and a business development executive. The structure of the team will evolve as relationships grow and you expand your service footprint within a client’s organization.
Develop the Client Specific Relationship Model
Relationship Strategy: The team’s current network of company contacts and how the team aligns deepening and expanding relationships to the client’s business initiatives.
Relationship Targeting: How the team identifies current relationships and new ones worth initiating which are necessary to sustain and grow.
Relationship Development: How the team sets actions aimed at building targeted relationships and refines the relationship plan based on client feedback.
Relationship Tracking: How team members gauge the progress of their relationship building activities and assess whether or not to continue investments in time and resources spent on building each relationship. Applying a consistent system enables you to track and measure your progress and more importantly keeps you focused on who within the organization will be making or influencing buying decisions.
Any size firm can and should be developing a cross functional client program. The steps are the same no matter your size. It is necessary, more efficient and should, by now, be more compelling to work across your firm to service clients better.
About the Author
Shari Robinson is a client-focused marketing and business development consultant with global experience in sales, a big four accounting firm and law. She has amassed a collection of proven actions and principles that yield successful outcomes when applied to client programs and relationship development.