Sometimes you need to briefly set aside productivity to get organized.
This happened to me just last week when I recognized that in bringing on several new clients and meeting ongoing writing and editing deadlines, I had let my surroundings get a little cluttered. My files and office space were a mess! I had to take a couple days off from being productive just to restore order in my workplace.
You’ve probably noticed that sometimes in your own business when you can’t keep up with the workflow.
Several years ago, I interviewed a highly successful advisory team in the Chicago suburbs who took a year-long hiatus from prospecting to get their client service team organized.
“Our client service was a mess,” the lead advisor confessed.
So this large team decided to stop bringing on new clients—for an entire calendar year. It helped that they had a successful business to begin with—but they knew that any further efforts to bring on new clients could be counterproductive. They spent a year ironing out the wrinkles in their service schedules and offerings—and deciding which clients they could serve best.
How do you know when you need to take a prospecting break?
- Losing clients. If you’re losing good clients, something’s wrong. But it can happen. A certain amount of attrition goes with the territory, but you can sense when it’s more than it should be. Another team I spoke with in New York recognized that they were losing almost as many clients as they were bringing on each month. Their business development efforts were like trying to catch water in a sieve! They decided they needed to focus on client service efforts before doing any more prospecting. They came up with a client service schedule that filled in the holes—and kept clients happy! Their business revenue doubled in about year.
- Bad survey ratings. If you survey your clients regularly, you’re a step ahead of many advisory teams! But you need to pay attention to the results of the surveys. And don’t forget, low participation in surveys can be a subtle sign of low satisfaction. And remember that people do tend to inflate ratings—especially if they are not truly anonymous surveys. The best solution is to hire a professional survey firm to design the most effective questions. Then make sure the clients know that the feedback is private—and truly listen to what your clients are telling you about your firm and your service.
- Low referral rates. Beyond surveys, another sure gauge of satisfaction is your referral rate. If you’re getting a high rate of qualified referrals, that means you’ve done a good job educating your clients about the type of clients you serve and meeting their expectations. What’s a good referral rate? Some teams aspire for at least 50% of their new business to come from referrals. That’s just one rule of thumb. Some businesses are nearly 100% referral. So whatever your business revenue goal, referrals should be driving you to the finish line.
- Shallow relationships. If you show up at your client appreciation events and don’t even know most of your clients, it’s probably a sure sign you need a prospecting time out!
So, what if you’re falling short in each of the above areas and think you need a time out?
There are no quick fixes, but stepping off the hamster wheel of prospecting for a brief time and dedicating yourself to organizing your practice can be the first step. The next step is evaluating the types of services you provide, for each level of client, and committing yourself to a formal process.
For a sample client service schedule, email me at email@example.com.