Why Growing Pains Signal Real Growth in Client EngagementJanuary 04, 2021 | By Wayne O'Neill
2020 gave us so many opportunities to experience painful days, weeks, and months in client engagement. So, what I’m about to tell you might sound counter-intuitive. After all, human nature tells us to seek normalcy and stability in 2021.
Let’s think differently for a moment. Instead of seeing 2021 as trying to regain normalcy with your business development strategy, see this new year as another opportunity to experience more growing pains. Yes, keep going! Embrace disruption by continuing to change the way you engage with clients.
Why am I telling you to continue to do things differently? Because continuing on the path of change is the best way to overcome fears, gain universal buy-in among your team, and, yes, position your firm for real growth through more revenue-generating opportunities.
It’s okay to be unnerved by what I’m telling you because everything in our culture is about comfort and waiting to return to normal in business. But, don’t buy it. If you try to go back to the way you engaged with clients before the pandemic, you’re going to see the same results as before: declining profits, wasted effort by your employees, and only winning a few jobs here and there — not accounts. There is a better way of thinking. There is a better playbook for customer engagement.
Why Go Through the Trouble of Changing Client Engagement?
I hear it from clients all the time that the way they engage clients has worked for them before, so why change now? Because, eventually, you’re going to run into a few different problems that cause your business to plateau or decline.
- You run out of projects to “win” instead of accounts to build.
- You get out-schmoozed by other clients, wasting valuable time.
- You continually sacrifice on price in a race to the bottom, cutting into profits.
- Your team gets burned out wasting time chasing down bad leads in the numbers game.
I’ve spent considerable time seeing this happen over and over again. What I want firms to see is that they need to pursue authentic connection with target clients that can leverage your solution for value and impact. I have helped companies survive and grow in down times after showing them how to create sustainable relationships.
Yes, this is a lot of work. And who wants to take on this burden of more change in 2021 after everything we went through in 2020? Here’s who: smart firms that want to get out of the old, tired race and start running a new race that is efficient, collaborative, and revenue-driving.
When you start to embrace this new approach, so will the target clients that you really want to work with. You keep showing up where they are, ask great questions, pursue different types of conversations about how to create comprehensive solutions to solve bigger problems, and demonstrate your understanding of the challenges they are facing.
This takes time. To make sure you’re on the right business development path, consider these examples of growing pains that will eventually bear good fruit in client engagement.
3 Types of Growing Pains that Signal Growth
1. Making enemies in the food chain. The goal of changing the way you engage with clients is not to make permanent enemies. However, a byproduct of changing your firm’s approach to client engagement is making temporary enemies as you build new relationships with new players instead of continuing to fall in line with how the game has always been played in your target market.
If you are making enemies during change, that’s a good sign that you’re on the path to growth. It might sting for a bit. You may even have to massage some bruised egos. But, the key is to turn these temporary disruptions into stronger connections by helping other players understand that you are trying to help everyone involved.
You don’t want to be cavalier about how you go about change. It’s about taking appropriate steps bringing others along and effectively communicating your goals to build stronger relationships that may require you to go around certain players in the food chain. Remember that it’s about relationships, so think carefully about communication at each step in the process.
2. Employees trying to revert to old habits. Another good sign of growth is your employees trying to revert to old habits of schmoozing clients or responding to the wrong RFPs. How is that a good sign? It means they are uncomfortable. And that’s exactly when you should keep pushing the benefits of pursuing this new approach to client engagement.
If left to their own devices, your team will revert to the comfortable, known path. But that’s not the path you want them on for your firm to achieve sustainable growth. So, look out for signals of discomfort, address these situations head-on with your team, provide them with coaching on a new approach to client engagement, and continue to pursue company-wide change.
3. Not seeing results right away. One reason why your employees may revert to old habits is because they’re not seeing the results. This is because taking a new approach to client engagement will not produce overnight results. It’s not designed to be.
As you look at connecting as a collaborative process — which is different than following the guy in front of you in the food chain — it’s going to be clumsy and painful at times. And that’s a sign that it’s working.
Your team needs to keep pursuing authentic connection, keep asking different types of questions to target clients, and continue to align with your client’s business and political issues. Eventually, there will be a breakthrough. And, it will transform your business. They just haven’t seen it yet, but it’s up ahead on the horizon of 2021.
Work With RESET to Support Change in Client Engagement
Achieving universal buy-in to a new approach of client engagement takes time. Attitudes, behaviors, and thinking need to change. That’s why we recommend working with our team to help accelerate the rate of change in your firm.
Through our proven methodology, The Connection Process, we can help your firm leverage connections to create faster, more sustainable revenue. By following this approach, your firm will grow in a more collaborative and intelligent way.
We start with helpful coaching conversations to see exactly where your firm is on the path to building authentic connection. We want to know what challenges you are facing trying to push through the growing pains of client engagement so that you can start creating accounts, not just winning whatever work you can find.
Once we push through some of the pains and facilitate buy-in among your employees, you will start to see real progress on the path to growth. Would you give us a call or send us a message to get started with a free 15-minute coaching conversation? We are eager to help your firm develop the appropriate business development strategy for 2021. Connect with us today.