One of the first questions we ask a prospect or new client is, “How did you get the business you have so far?” Some can answer exactly. Others aren’t as certain.
When we begin our first discussions with a new client, our preferred modus operandi is to set up a program that allows us to talk to their customers who will give us a comprehensive view of our client’s business. If we can’t talk to customers right away and find out why they selected our client and what the experience has been, we must rely on the information our client provides us.
Business executives who are responsible for business planning should know the source of all their business. Knowing the incoming traffic patterns for new business is critical to knowing how to increase those traffic lanes. A senior partner at one very large and prominent law firm was bemoaning the fact that revenues were slipping, business development was slipping, and partner polish was… well, not very polished anymore. When we asked where they got most of their business he said he didn’t know. As a starting point, knowing all sources of business would be of great value to him as he makes business planning decisions for a new year.
If you know how and why you got most of your business, you’ll have solid clues about how to get more. Another Davis, Kingsley & Company client had been spending considerable amounts of money and energy courting bankers. We assumed those relationships were of benefit to them so we commented to their president, “Bankers must be a reliable source of new business for your firm. ” His reply was, “The greatest percentage of our business comes from referrals from lawyers. ” His reply showed me they were not directing their time toward a market that offered the value they need. They were more comfortable building relationships with bankers than with lawyers but it was costing them money and time. Those are misdirected energies. It seemed obvious to us – from our perspective as outside advisors - but it was a blind spot for them.
Many companies know exactly where they get their business and who brings it in. And they know that this information may change over time. They have programs and processes to help them focus on those sources to continually audit their business development trails. If you have responsibilities for the growth of the company, do you know specifically where, how and through whom your company derives every bit of its business?
Darcie Davis, President of Davis, Kingsley & Company is a management consultant, speaker, author and trainer. She works with companies to secure genuine feedback from their clients before advising them on strategic decisions about sales, marketing, and operations. Her advice will keep your clients out of the jaws of the competition.
Learn more about Customer Satisfaction and Feedback Programs offered by Darcie and her firm at http://www.DavisKingsley.com.