One key to running a successful consulting firm is choosing the right clients. Your consulting firm probably signs good clients overall. Maybe a dud here or there, balanced by the occasional, outstanding client.
Your consulting firm’s very best clients deserve Rock Star status. They partner with you, are fun to work with and help your consulting firm thrive. Some also send cookies. (Just sayin’…)
If you’re lucky, you have a handful of the very best clients over the course of your consulting career.
However, if you’re smart, most of your clients can be Rock Star clients.
Smart consulting firms don’t leave the nature of their clients to chance. They screen prospects carefully and they elevate their client quality by making the ideal consultant/client relationship explicit.
In other words, you will run a more successful practice if you openly discuss with the people who hire your consulting firm what they can do to be amazing clients.
For instance, before you take on a prospective client, consider sharing your criteria for Rock Star clients with them.
If the yardsticks or concept rankles your prospect, perhaps they’re not the client for you, or your consulting firm isn’t the right match for them.
Throughout your engagements, support your clients’ quest to be awesome partners. Schedule regular check-ins to run through your Rock Star checklist with your clients.
For long-term, retainer clients run through your checklist twice per year. For short term, project-based clients, review your status mid-project and at your project’s conclusion.
Important note: winning the very best clients also requires you to be the very best consulting firm. It’s a two way street. The companion article to this one (coming soon), discusses how your consulting firm can achieve Rock Star status with your clients.
Below is a starter list of what the very best, Rock Star clients do. I look forward to your additions.
What the Very Best Clients Do
Treat you like a confidante, turning to you first when they need advice, reassurance or a safe space to share.
Write to you unbidden, asking if they can pay now for the next engagement or the next year’s work together.
Suggest you raise your fees for a project when your consulting firm’s proposal leaves money on the table.
Flag when a request from their organization or a suggestion from your consulting firm is out of scope, and offer to pay separately.
Generously offer you opportunities to stretch your consulting firm’s skills (i.e., work on projects in areas where you don’t have deep experience).
Proactively recommend your consulting firm to colleagues and contacts.
Request your help without hesitation, realizing that every time they turn to you is an opportunity for your consulting firm to add value and act like a Rock Star.
Treat your consulting firm’s staff with respect and kindness.
Invite your consulting firm to participate in marketing opportunities that will highlight the noteworthy outcomes you’ve helped produce for them (e.g., co-present at industry conferences).
Long-time readers (and clients) probably noticed the Rock Star designation matches the top level of performance in the insanely effective “3 Rocks” management system for employees and subcontractors. Yep, the 3 Rocks approach applies to clients and, importantly to your consulting firm overall.
The checklist above only scratches the surface of what the very best clients do. What else separates outstanding clients from good ones, and deserves to be on the checklist? Add your ideas below.
Text and images are © 2022 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.