Growing Business From Existing Clients: Part 3

When I wrote my first post about growing business from existing clients, I didn’t envision that there would be a Part Two or Three. And that’s kind of ironic, because I already have Parts Four through Six outlined.

But I digress.

There are a number of things you can do to grow business from existing clients; here are seven I know will work. It should come as no surprise that all of them are tied to improving the level of service you and your team provide to your clients.

  1. Stop thinking about growing your business: Did I just hear you say “WTF?”  The problem with trying to grow your business by thinking about your business is that there’s a critical element missing: Your clients!  The best way to grow your business is to spend more time thinking about your clients’ businesses, the threats on which they haven’t yet focused, the opportunities they haven’t yet contemplated. The thing you want to hear from a client is “Thanks, I hadn’t even thought about that before. Tell me more.”
  2. Better understand your clients’ business. One of the biggest issues that clients state in satisfaction surveys is that agencies don’t fully understand their client’s business. Might your client be thinking that about your agency? If so, fix this. Now. Or your client will.
  3. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: It’s easy to fall into the “today trap”: Dealing with current client programs, putting out fires, and making sure the agency is executing with excellence. These important areas can fill your day–and part of your night. Don’t let them!  As agency owner or leader, you must dedicate more of your time to thinking about the critical, over-arching issues affecting your clients, not only today, but more importantly, tomorrow.
  4. Know what keeps your clients, their bosses up at night: The fastest way to endear yourself to your client, and thereby grow your business, is to help solve the problems that worry them the most. You don’t know what they are? Get them out to lunch and ask. Believe me, they’ll be happy to “spill.” I guarantee you’ll come up with a solution.  Maybe two. That’s a start.  And remember, these are the areas where they’re more likely to write the bigger checks and perhaps even grow your agency into the new practice areas you’ve been itching to tackle.
  5. Ask for performance feedback: Speaking of happy clients, how satisfied are yours?  Are you sure? When was the last time you asked? I don’t mean in passing, but in a face-to-face meeting that makes clear that you really want to know how your agency is performing, warts and all. You also want to know how the client ranks you, personally, in providing valuable counsel and delivering superior client service, even if you need to hire an outside company to get truly honest answers. Don’t be afraid to find out where you’re falling short. It’s not knowing that prevents agencies from growing business…and gets them fired.
  6. Deepen the client relationship: More and more, consumers want to do business with brands and companies they know, and that they feel know and care about them. The same’s true for clients.  When’s the last time you had fun with your client?  Or gave them some really good career-building advice? Or sent them a bottle of that favorite wine they mentioned merely in passing?  Or thanked them for their business?
  7. Dial up the client service: Is your team consistently going above-and-beyond?  Is it surprising and delighting your clients?  Is it regularly exceeding your client’s expectations?  Even lean teams can provide five-star client service. Not doing so might not get you fired–though I’m not sure of that!–but it certainly won’t get the client to expand its work with your firm.

Are a number of these common sense? Sure. But be honest. Are you and your team doing all of them for all of your clients?  Did reading this post get you to dedicate yourself to implementing at least some of them? Then my work here is done. (At least for today.)

In my next post on building business from existing clients, I’ll discuss AGM– the Account Growth Mindset–and more.

In the meantime, I encourage you to share, via a Comment, the strategies you’re employing to grow business from existing clients.

Ken Jacobs

I’m the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps public relations and communications agencies and organizations grow and manage business, and enhance staff performance, leadership and communications skills.We do so via consulting, training, and coaching. To learn more, please click on the “Jacobs Communications Consulting” tab on the top.

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