December 2006  

AMCF Annual Meeting in New York
Ways to expand an Account

By Ford Harding

Every consultant, whether new to the field or an old hand, should work at expanding their current accounts.  Here are some things you can do

- Do good work:  That’s your first responsibility.  You owe it to the client, and if you don’t do good work, you won’t get a chance to do more.

- Know the Territory:  The better you know what is going on at a client, the greater will be your chance of learning about a need the client has for the kind of service you provide and whom you need to get to to win it.  Use the internet daily to check references to the client.  Elicit information on the organization structure and dynamics from a members of the client organization willing to share what they know.

- Look for Sponsors and Bridges:  Sponsors are those interested in hiring you or promoting your services.  It’s hard to win an engagement without one.  These people often have an opportunity mindset and so naturally seek out resources for their companies.  Bridges are people who can introduce you to many others across the company.  Often they are staffers, like members of the human resources or technology teams.  Work especially hard to establish relationships with these two kinds of people.

- Catch a Rising Star:  Rising stars are junior members of the client organization who are especially competent and destined for bigger things.  They are easy to spot.  Seek them out, build a relationship and stay in touch with them at least a couple of times a year.  They may not be able to hire you now, but chances are they will in the future and then your long-term relationship will pay dividends.

- Ask for Introductions:  Whenever a client is especially happy with you, you are in a position to ask a favor.  Ask for an introduction by name to someone in the client organization you want to meet.  Such introductions are usually easy for the client to make.  She feels good about doing it and often talks up your virtues in the process.

- Go to the Water Hole:  Spend a little time hanging out where your clients gather.  That may be in the company cafeteria for lunch or in the local coffee shop on the way to work.  Every short conversation you have at such places deepens the relationship and adds to you information about the contacts and their company.  If invited to a client offsite, during breaks don’t run off to read your email; hang out with the offsite attendees.

- Build a Client Tree:  Client trees are created when you follow a client from one employer or business unit to another, get work there and then follow an executive leaving that organization to a third.  Rainmakers make an art of developing their client trees.  One consultant could trace over a third of the work he had won over ten years from client trees developed from his first two clients.

Sales made to current, happy clients are easier than gaining a foothold in a new one.  This reduces the time and cost associated with winning more work, increasing your firm’s profitability.  Every consultant should work at expanding existing accounts.

Ford Harding
President of Harding Co
Author of Creating Rain Makers
[John Wiley & Sons, 2006]

AMCF 2006
AMCF Annual Meeting 2006 held at the Harvard Club of New York City. From left to right: Ford Harding, Georges Bacon, Rijk Van Terwisga and Eric de Groot as moderator. Picture: B. Villeret. Copyright Quantorg 2006.

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Charles Ford Harding

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On the shelves:
Creating Rain Makers
[John Wiley & Sons, 2006]

Copyright Ford Harding  2006
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