Back to Basics #2: Do the Right Thing

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with Trina’s Tips



Back to Basics #2
Do the Right Thing

When we get feedback from a client, in which virtually everything we helped them learn and implement comes back with glowing results, it makes their feelings of success and our levels of professional satisfaction soar.  The subject of this case example is a firm of about 35.  Here are six lessons learned …


1.    Interview clients about their futures.

The firm has a 9-person leadership team.  Members swap clients for these interviews, so no one is interviewing a client in his or her own market – to prevent bias.  They all use the Mandeville “Market Interview” form.  And when all the interviews have been conducted, they host a retreat at which they:  (1) share the data from all interviews;  (2) compute an updated “Market Attractiveness” score;  (3) construct an updated “Market Direction” matrix; and (4) identify the best actions, by market.

The process enables the firm to closely monitor shifts in their markets, prompts them to seek new markets, if one is fading, and … identifies needs for new services.

2.    Network in diverse groups, and listen for new markets.

While leaders are active in client associations, they also participate in “cross sectional” groups – made up of people from a variety of businesses.  One leader discovered a growing need for municipal affordable housing.  The firm’s hi-end housing market has been slowing.  By identifying a growing demand for work that essentially uses the skills of the same staff, they’ve increased the firm’s stability … in  a market that looks to be growing in their geography for the next few years.

3.    Follow client satisfaction feedback processes rigorously.

Every firm has leaders who rush in when things go wrong on a project.  Many professionals who’ve learned the Mandeville-based Client Feedback process use the system on a fairly regular basis.  This firm has become rigorous about ensuring that they do regular client satisfaction feedback throughout each and every project.

One client had to cancel a major project they’d awarded the firm.  However, their desire to support them is so strong, they found other projects to give the firm … which totaled the same fee volume.  When we ensure a client is delighted with what we’re doing for them, they begin to care about us, and the welfare of our firm.

4.    Ensure your people have the marketing skills they need.

Rather than relying on a few leaders to market, the firm sponsored workshops …
… a day every other month – in which everyone with any current or potential client contact responsibility developed their skills in all variations of the Mandeville Techniques, in creating better presentations, and in writing better proposals.  Training two thirds of a firm is a serious commitment.  However …

They can now mobilize project pursuit teams with people who know what to do, and who take delight in winning project after project.  The stress on the most senior principals is considerably less.  And a broader base of people feel greater levels of satisfaction in being a part of ensuring the firm’s long-term success.

5.    Only pursue work that makes the most sense.

When a market slows, demand for services becomes less than the number of firms who have been providing those services.  Therefore, the number of firms pursuing a project might double or triple, and the intensity of the competition also doubles or triples.  Many firms are reporting an increasing flow of RFPs coming to them, as government agencies at all levels try to be fair to all.  However …

You know, if you’ve been through the Mandeville workshops, what you need to do to win a project.  If you’re not able to meet with a client – to identify key concerns and to cultivate a relationship – your chances of success drop off quickly.  Yet, so many firms are (out of fear) responding to every RFP … “We have to do it.” … even when it really makes no sense.  Create a sensible Go/No-Go formula and follow it.

The case example firm has become almost fanatical about applying their formula, as they saw how much money they wasted when they didn’t.  And when they can do the things they know they should do, they’re winning almost 100% of the time.  In addition to better backlog at lower marketing costs, impact on morale is superb!

6.    As soon as you get a new lead, mobilize your pursuit team.

Building relationships takes time.  Even if you’re busy, if you learn of an upcoming project, and if you’ve decided it’s one to pursue, act immediately!  In the case example firm, as soon as they decide to “Go”, they mobilize a pursuit team.  The team identifies whom needs to be Mandevilled.  They usually send two to Mandeville a new client, to maximize their chances of “clicking” with that client, interpersonally.

Once they know the clients’ goals and concerns, they begin preparing detailed responses to each … for follow-on meetings, for proposals, and for presentations.  Having a variety of people on the team enables them to create better responses to concerns, as younger people often see things differently and may create a new idea that improves the team’s response … and increase their odds of success.  Also …

By talking about the client as a group, they often identify additional people in the client system that they can meet, and from whom they can gain additional insight.

Their keys to success:  (1) Building the marketing skills of a broad base of people who can support their future, and (2) Being rigorous about “doing the right things.”