These days, I don’t spend much time chasing down clients. My business development time is all about creating content designed to entice sweet-spot clients to discover and engage with me. 100% of my revenue comes from either referrals or content marketing.
It was no small feat getting to this place. But even with a steady stream of future clients, I still wrestle sometimes—like I know you do—with the decision to take on a new client.
How do you decide which clients to chase—and which to let simply pass on by?
I’ve seen lots of situational responses. Any of these sound familiar?
“Oh, I’ll just chase this one because it’s a quick $_____(insert dollar amount high enough to make it feel worthy).
“I know this guy is trouble, but I’ll pitch him because his name would look great on my roster.”
“Jill is a friend of my client’s next-door neighbor and so I feel like I HAVE to propose since she sent the referral.”
We’ve all been there. If you don’t have enough cash to get you through a couple of lean months, it’s easy to say yes to less-than-good fit work. Or clients.
Stop before you begin the chase and indulge in a 5-minute exercise.
Close your eyes (shut off your devices) and imagine what working with this person or company will be like. What’s the day-to-day impact on your life? And for how long? How will you feel when the phone rings and he/she is on the other end? What challenges does this assignment or team entail? What rewards—beyond revenue—can you imagine if you do great work together?
Use this as an exercise to fully engage your right brain, because your daily creative and emotional life will be affected by your choice.
Then—and only then—factor in your left brain. What does adding this client mean in terms of revenue? In allowing you and/or your team to stretch and add more marketable skills? Will you need to hire more resources or build out your capabilities—and what will that require? Jot down the high points and—if this is a real game-changer—post it where it will rattle around your brain for a while.
Make your decision consciously, with full knowledge of your tangible and intangible risks and rewards. Because chasing a client solely for revenue doesn’t build enduring relationships, great companies or remarkable work.
When you chase a client, do it for the right reasons. Even when you lose—and sometimes you will—you’ll know you made the right choice.
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