As you began to answer that question, your mind probably turned to the client(s) who bring in the most money, prestige, access, or referrals.
Like most professionals, I too used to think of these criteria when asked that question. Until I heard the top rain-maker at a successful IP firm give a different answer to his colleagues at their annual retreat.
He said that HE was his most important client. By way of elaboration, he first queried, “how should you treat all of your clients – and especially your top clients?
- You take outstanding care of them by giving them and their matters the time necessary to get them excellent results
- You communicate with them often, accurately and artfully
- You’re willing to invest extra resources to build a long-term relationship
- You make sure the people on your team also give them high-quality attention to get done what needs to get done on their behalf
- In the face of time constraints and conflicting priorities, you turn to their matters first because they’re most consequential to your future well-being
By now, you get his point (and hence, my point): In order to be a strong business generator, you have to take care of yourself first – which, in this context, means that you simply must devote time and energy to the tasks that will grow your capacity to systematically succeed in the future.
- What activities get you the best business development results?
- What are you telling yourself about your business development efforts?
- Are you thinking long-term?
- Do those whom you supervise contribute effectively to your business development efforts?
- Are you letting your busy-ness crowd out and delay your business building activities until you “have some time?”
If you’re not sure of your answers, or you’re not happy with them, do what you’d do if your most important client expressed a concern that they’ve recently been less satisfied than in the past. Assume they expressed it in a positive way and welcomed your efforts to make things right again. You’d ask questions, you’d listen well, and you’d express your appreciation.
You’d also make a commitment to paying more attention to that client and you’d set some specific objectives to act on.
So treat yourself as you would your top client, and your future as if it were as important as the work you do for that client. THAT’S how you’ll build sustainable success.