Practice Management

Carbon-Copy Success

Three ways to duplicate your best clients

by Deborah J. Nelson

Ms. Nelson is a Marketing Consultant with Advantus Marketing, LLC and an adjunct Director of Consulting at Weylman Consulting Group. She can be reached at (401) 465-4168 or [email protected]

Two things typically happen in business: we push hard to accomplish this year’s goals and make plans to improve efficiency. When you are in a service-oriented industry, such as the wealth advisory or insurance industry, it becomes harder to maintain a high level of personal service, while working to grow your overall business. Dramatic growth and efficiency can be obtained in your practice by duplicating your best clients. We know profitable growth involves a variety of strategies; but, elevating the type of client you engage with is one method of driving profitability and efficiency over the long-term. You can duplicate your best clients by following three simple, proven steps below.

Determine Which Clients You Want to Duplicate

Make a list of the clients you would love to duplicate, if you could. Make sure these are the type of clients with whom you want to grow your business for years to come. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ definition of a top client, but rather, several factors to consider. If you do not know where to begin, start with the Three R’s: A client with whom you have a strong Relationship – meaning they are open to your ideas, act on what you recommend and value the work you do. Second, a client who provides you with significant Revenue or a mix of revenue from multiple services they have in place with you. Third, a client that gives you great Referrals. Once you decide on your definition, make a list of your top clients who fit that criteria.

Find Out Who Your Clients Interact With

As we get older, we tend to socialize with individuals like us. If you enjoy playing tennis or golf, you probably have friends from tennis leagues or a particular golf club. The same is likely true for your clients. Learn what your best clients like to do, where they socialize and recreate, and who they work with.

In a corporate business setting, find out who their C-Suite colleagues are or fellow employees they work with, or peers in their industry they network with. This is an easy conversation during a client review meeting or when out to lunch with clients. If they are involved in cultural activities or charities, find out who they interact with in these organizations. Your list may also include individuals your client mentioned they enjoy practicing yoga with. For each client you want to duplicate, create a list of four to six individuals they would likely know. These could be their first connections on LinkedIn, fellow employees at their company who work in the same department, or perhaps members of the same community organizations they belong to.

Ask for Guidance

Instead of asking your clients to introduce you to someone who might have a need for your services, ask them for guidance on how to comfortably meet the specific individuals on your list...

The word guidance is one of the most powerful words in the English language. You are asking for direction, not asking someone to do your work for you. Instead of asking your clients to think of or introduce you to someone who might have a need for your services – which could put your client on the spot or make them uncomfortable, ask them for guidance on how to comfortably meet the specific individuals on your list (remember these are individuals you know your clients are connected to). For example, if you have a list of individuals who work in the same company as your client or belong to the same club, tell your client you are planning to reach out to those individuals on your list and would like their guidance on the best way to comfortably introduce yourself to them. That way you are taking control of the process and not asking your clients to prospect for you.

It is similar to me asking you for a restaurant recommendation in your town. If I ask you an open-ended question, such as “Where should I go for dinner,” you might draw a blank. You don’t know if I am a vegetarian, a barbeque lover, looking for high-end dining, or the best pub food around. However, if I present you with a list of five restaurants in your town, and ask you about your experiences, you would gladly give me your input on those choices.

Bring your list of four to six names to your next client meeting. Let your client know that you are planning to introduce yourself to these individuals and ask for their help and guidance. The conversation might sound like this, “Mary, I wondered if you could help me. I am planning to reach out and introduce myself to these fellow members of your company or club.” Next, show your client the list. Tell them, “I am planning to reach out to these individuals to introduce myself and perhaps let them know you and I work together…but I wanted to make sure it would be alright to mention your name.” You will also want to ask your client about the most comfortable way to reach out to these individuals and any other suggestions they may have.

This simple request does two things – it allows your client to add or delete names from your list and it reassures them that they do not have to make the call, because you are planning to reach out to them anyway. They may share important details on how to connect with these individuals, and best-case scenario, they may offer to personally introduce you to them.

Using these three simple steps is one strategy for duplicating your best clients, thus helping you advance your marketing and business momentum. It is a comfortable conversation with your clients that is focused around their guidance, not asking your clients to think of names for you. In many cases, your clients may add names to your list that you are missing! ◊