Life is not all about money – and honestly, neither is business. Respect, trust, honesty, loyalty, collaboration, communication. Those are all important components of a successful marriage – and for a successful business partnership. And when it comes right down to it, isn’t your relationship with your best clients similar to a professional marriage?
I want to challenge you to really examine what you’re looking for in your A-Level clients – beyond big assets or large invoices. Think about what makes you look forward to meeting with your favorite clients. Why do you smile when you hang up the phone after a conversation with them? Why you say to yourself “why can’t all my clients be just like them?”
To assist you in articulating what innate characteristics your best clients have in common – and to help you attract more of these clients in the future – here is a simple exercise to help you begin to define your ‘Ideal Client Characteristics.’
- Create a list of what you expect out of your clients. For example, do you expect them to show up on time to their meetings? Do you want them to come prepared to their annual planning meeting? Do you want them to be honest about their financial situation when they meet with you?
- Write a list of your top 5-10 best clients. Once you’ve done that, make notes about each client and indicate what it is about them that makes them one of your ‘best clients.’
- List out your own personal top five values. Which of those top values are ‘non-negotiable’ values that you want your best clients to share with you? For example, if honesty is one of your top five values, maybe this is something you want all of your ideal clients to also share with you.
- Now, consider what other things your top clients have in common with you and with each other. For example, do they share the same profession, type of business, background, level of education, location, religion, economic status, utilize other professionals, ethnicity, life stage or marital status? List these commonalities.
- Now it’s time to address the annual revenue these clients bring into your business. As you are addressing this question, remember it’s all about net revenue, not gross revenue. So even if you have a bigger ticket client that brings a lot of gross revenue but after you address all their questions, reschedule meetings with them several times, change their billing rate three times throughout the year and then replace the staff that they’ve burnt out in the process – are you even still netting any profit on them? Make sure you consider all of this before you continue to allow those big-ticket clients to continue to stay on your favorite client list
Now that you have answered these questions, you are well on your way to defining your Ideal Client Criteria. This is helpful for many reasons, including but not limited to helping you market your business to attract more of these same clients going forward. It also helps your entire accounting firm staff or financial advisory team all be on the same page regarding who is an ideal prospect for your practice. And it also helps you communicate who a good fit as a referral into your practice when you are meeting with other professionals (COIs).
Once your ideal client criteria has been determined, the next step is to pull this information together into a ‘Client Rating System’ to help you objectively rate all of your clients (and prospects). Stay tuned for more information on this!