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What the Very Best Clients Do [Consulting Firm Checklist]

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.


14 Comments
  1. Nate Jebb
    December 8, 2021 at 7:04 am Reply

    Helpful, David. Makes me realize I have been undervaluing myself.
    Nate

    • David A. Fields
      December 8, 2021 at 7:14 am Reply

      Well, Nate, then it’s definitely time to raise your fees, only take on great clients, and accept that you’re an amazing consultant that others are fortunate to work with!

      (Other readers and I are certainly fortunate that you shared your thoughts here.)

      • Kevin
        December 9, 2021 at 8:07 am Reply

        Dave

        You always have great suggestions.

        Thank you

        Kevin

        • David A. Fields
          December 9, 2021 at 9:47 am

          👍 You betcha! I appreciate your commenting.

  2. Ruth Winett
    December 8, 2021 at 9:40 am Reply

    The best clients respond quickly to your requests for more information, back up documents, or for clarification on some aspect of the project. They don’t leave you hanging with gaps in information that prevent you from completing the project on time.

    • David A. Fields
      December 8, 2021 at 9:43 am Reply

      That’s the truth, Ruth! Great, much needed addition to the list. Well done!

  3. John Igitt
    December 8, 2021 at 11:38 am Reply

    This is an engaging, thoughtful, and interesting read, David. To me, the most important take-way from the article was “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”===The partnership and/or close collaboration is a critical element to building/nurturing the best client relationships for the long haul.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • David A. Fields
      December 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm Reply

      Precisely, John. While you can build a consulting firm with short-term, one-off, high-churn clients–there’s nothing wrong with that, and we’ve helped build a number of firms like that–it’s much harder to sustain and lacks the relationship rewards that most consultants enjoy. Therefore, the other pay is to build firms with long-term, amazing clients.

      Thanks for highlighting that point, John.

  4. Jill Vaughan
    December 8, 2021 at 1:24 pm Reply

    I have a Rockstar client that always give my firm credit when she shows her results to her executive team. That leads to a renewed contract and a broader scope of work. And she is super fun to work with like you mention in your article! Thanks David!

    • David A. Fields
      December 8, 2021 at 1:58 pm Reply

      Good on you, Jill, for creating a relationship and the value that leads to such a supportive client. That’s an inspiring example!

  5. Hadis Nazari
    December 8, 2021 at 3:26 pm Reply

    That’s great!thanks for sharing

    • David A. Fields
      December 8, 2021 at 3:49 pm Reply

      You betcha, Hadis. Thank you for sharing your reaction!

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