When I ask some attorneys to describe their ideal Client, I often hear, ‘one that pays.' This response is mildly amusing… but rarely true. Not every Client is a good Client. And what makes a great Client for one firm or professional might be a nightmare for another. So a big part of your business development planning process should start by defining your ideal target Clients.
A good place to start is often with your current Clients. Focus on the ones who have growth potential and who are not utilizing your firm to serve all of their existing needs. The reasons to start with current Clients are pretty simple: they are already writing you checks, so presumably they like you – and would be open to discussing the possibility of working together with you in other areas. Plus, it costs significantly less to develop business with current Clients than to pursue prospects with whom you don’t currently have a relationship. Additionally, if you are new to initiating business development conversations, often it can be less intimidating to begin a dialogue with people that you know.
Be sure to also make your ‘inactive’ Clients a top priority. These are the people who you consider to be Clients but with whom you haven't had a meaningful conversation in more than 6 months. These people also have another name – non-Clients – because frankly, if you haven't been in contact with them in this period of time, there is a good chance that they aren’t your Clients anymore. Call them… soon.
Additionally, one of the best ways to develop business is to help Clients solve problems, so another category of good potential targets is people with problems you can help with. Look for target Clients in businesses that you have experience with, in industries where you may have particular expertise or at companies that have issues that are similar to those of your current Clients. This will allow you to initiate a compelling conversation about how you have helped similar Clients deal with these types of issues successfully. After you have put together your list of targets, you may want to enlist a little help from your friends…