Several years ago, when I was ramping up my consulting business and I was feeling the pressure of putting food on the table for my family, I received some sage advice that changed the trajectory of my business.
Up until that time, new clients seemed to only trickle in. I looked at every opportunity as a must-win situation to pay our mortgage. The stress and test of my patience only made it more difficult to win new clients. The classic symptoms of a professional trying to grow his or her practice.
Then one evening while I was enjoying a visit from my father-in-law, Steve Cook, he told me something so simple yet profoundly effective that permanently changed my business development approach, and ultimately my success rate of winning new business. He said, “Doug, don’t chase the money. Let it come to you.”
I initially thought to myself, “sure, easy for someone who already has a successful business to say.” Yet, as Steve and I talked more about it, it made sense. Successful professionals will approach new business opportunities with an element of confidence and patience that ultimately attracts new clients. They focus on what the client needs, answer their questions to help them make an informed decision, and then give them the time and space to move forward when the timing is right for them.
Prospective clients can often tell when you are too eager for their business. It is not necessarily what you say, but how you say it. They can sense that tone of desperation in your voice that you might not hear. They can also get cold feet by the one-too-many follow-up emails or calls on a proposal you sent them.
Honoring the client’s agenda over your own agenda is so important when it comes to winning the trust and confidence of a new client. Treating the client’s money like it is your own money and understanding that they might not decide as quickly as you would like is a part of business.
Successful professionals do not have the time to chase the money. They are too busy taking care of the needs of their clients. They are very responsive in providing a prospective client everything they need to make an informed decision, but they do not pressure the client into making a decision until the client is ready.
Like my initial reaction to Steve’s advice, you might think that this is easier said than done, but if you can focus on one thing, address the clients’ needs and not your revenue goal, you will notice a shift over time in your ability to win more work.
Sadly, my business advisor, and so much more, recently passed away. I will miss that man, yet I will always take the advice he gave me to heart and implement it as I continue to build my successful practice.
Thank you, Steve Cook. May you rest in peace.