New Year’s Eve isn’t the only time to take personal inventory. It’s an ongoing process… continual self-improvement. As the Spring approaches, perhaps it’s time to clean out our professional closets as we are already one quarter into 2010.
What does your “client closet” look like? Think of your closet at home, where you have clothes and shoes you wear a lot and those clothes that are sparsely worn. And guys, this means you, too. You are not fooling me!
Your “client closet” is full of clients you like to deal with and those you don’t, just like some pants, shoes, shirts and that great worn-in sweatshirt you’ve had for ages that you wear every weekend. Some clients are more interesting than others, some are more innovative and some are merely dramatic without substance.
Do you like buying clothes or do you avoid this task? Is your wardrobe up to date or outdated? Do you rely on your current customers to sustain your business year after year or do you welcome the opportunity and actively engage in new client acquisition?
I’d say it’s time to Spring Clean your client closet.
Here are 5 steps to get your client closet – and yourself – revitalized as we move into Q2 2010.
- Take inventory of your client base. How many clients do you have? How much revenue do they generate? Is this revenue spread out evenly among all clients or do a few clients contribute to the bulk of your revenue stream? Do you even like the clients who contribute to the bulk of your gross revenue? Are they your most profitable clients?
- What industrial / business segments comprise your client base? Into which segments do the clients contributing to the bulk of your revenue fall? Do you like working in these particular client segments or did you “fall into” them and subsequently cultivate similar clients over time? Are these segments areas of strength for your company?
- In terms of client company size, is your client base balanced or skewed? Do you like the composition and balance of your client base in terms of segmentation, size, revenue generation and profitability? What types of clients are missing from your client closet?
- Is your company good at retaining existing customers? How many new customers do you acquire each year? How important is new customer acquisition to revenue generation, based on project life cycles? Do you acquire new customers to replace those lost or to grow the size of your client closet?
- How dependent is your company on new projects generated from your existing customer base? How has this situation impacted your actively seeking out new customers? What if you had to start all over again and only depend on new customer acquisition? What kind of customers would you put in your client closet?
I’m not suggesting that you “reinvent” yourself and go after style points that make absolutely no sense for your business. However, taking stock of your client closet does make you consider whether your current client base is holding you back or revitalizing your business. Your existing customer base can be a springboard for business development in related business segments.
Perhaps last year and the loss of clients served as an involuntary purge of your customer base. Perhaps you have won new customers because of the necessity of replacing those you lost. Some of these new customers may be just the type of customer you should be working with for future growth.
Although every cloud may not have a silver lining, I do clean my client closet annually during Spring. This exercise allows me to revisit how I serve my client base and what they value in what I bring to their collective tables. This exercise also focuses my attention on the clients with whom I work collaboratively and those who drain energy, time and profit.
Whether or not you decide to purge your client closet is up to you. However, realizing why certain clients “fit” you better than others creates a great framework from which to continuously improve your 2010 client acquisition strategy.