Four Metaphors That Describe the Best Client Developers


Following last week’s post about finding and attracting clients, the question has surfaced: What personal attributes are critical to implementing an effective client pursuit plan?

Sure, you have to be a good communicator, build relationships, organize your activities and have a good attitude…but what do you need to do to play in the big leagues?

Here are four metaphors that might help illuminate what it looks like to be among the best at developing client relationships:

wine connoisseur

  1. The Wine Connoisseur. People who love wine know good wine when they smell it. High quality wine stimulates a part of their brain that arouses emotion and excitement. A connoisseur would rather drink no wine than drink average quality wine.
    And so it is with client connoisseurs. They continuously refine their taste for what makes a good client: Do they have sufficient capacity to work with me? Do their problems align with my solutions? Do they appreciate my style, values and approach?
    While they respect and honor everyone, the best client developers know good clients when they meet them so they can concentrate their attention wisely. That’s what makes them so efficient and energetic.
  2. The Alpine Skier. The summit of the most popular downhill ski area where I grew up is 1,000 ft. The average elevation of ski areas in Colorado is 9,000 ft. After skiing in Colorado, where they’d experienced the thrill and joy of the longer runs, some kids would return with a different perspective on our local hills. They had grander expectations.
    And so it is with alpine client developers. Because they continuously elevate the size and breadth of issues discussed, they continuously expand the size and breadth of solutions they offer. Every time they climb higher, their confidence and anticipation increases.
    While they respect and honor every conversation, the best client developers concentrate their attention on the biggest mountains. That’s what makes them more productive and innovative
  3. The Long-Term Relationship Seeker. At some point in most people’s romantic evolution, they get tired of the cat-and-mouse game. The chase can be exciting for a while, but it’s also exhausting to build the level of trust that allows for authenticity and vulnerability. As a result, many people adjust their approach, making it clear early on in the process that they are looking for a committed relationship. They work to create understanding based on truth, and they make investments for the future, having faith that their investments will eventually be reciprocated.
    And so it is with long-term client seekers. They strive for a partnership. While they respect and honor every relationship, the best client developers concentrate their attention on the highest-potential relationships. That’s what makes their portfolio sustainable and enduring.
  4. The Performers. One of my colleagues told me that he was skeptical when his mentor coached him to “fake it until you make it,” because it sounds false and inauthentic. But his mentor explained that reality often follows imagination. If you see yourself as courageous, powerful and good, you’ll likely behave in a way that conspires toward your vision.
    Actors self-direct their self-image rather than reflecting their current reality. They decide the character they will play and then make it real.
    And so it is with client performers. The best client developers believe in a vision of themselves in which they make a meaningful impact and are rewarded by client loyalty well beyond their current reality. While they recognize their current limitations, they concentrate their attention on the image of themselves at full potential — and beyond. That’s what allows them to stretch further and keep believing.

Which metaphor will guide you this year to take your client pursuit plan to the next level?

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