Principles For Building New Client Relationships

  1. We will specialise. That means saying no to opportunities more often than we say yes.

  2. We will develop real and credible expertise, and position ourselves as the expert practitioner of this specialism in the minds of our target market and our clients to help them find a match with us.

  3. We will share our expertise widely and freely, to help improve the knowledge in the wider marketplace and industry, and to help clients find us and identify a match with us.

  4. While we share our knowledge and learning widely, we will not engage in solving specific problems until we are paid. Our expertise has value, and we spend our time focusing on providing it to those who do value it. This means we do not do spec work, such as parts of a discovery, prototyping or design, in procurement processes.

  5. Our approach is about dialogue rather than monologue. An RFP is a monologue, a pitch presentation is a monologue. We seek to have collaborative conversations instead that construct a path towards the best possible answers. We will avoid procurement processes that don't allow this.

  6. Linked with that, if there are key client stakeholders who won’t take part in the dialogue then we cannot be part of the process.

  7. The dialogue should be balanced. Both parties are frankly and openly evaluating whether they are a good fit in terms of needs\/expertise pairing, and values, and are interested in working together. It is not our job to convince a client to hire us. We simply assess if there is a fit between us and the client suitable enough to take a next step.

  8. If there is not a good fit we aim to find that out as early as possible, be honest about it, and part ways. Where possible we recommend more suitable partners, or other routes to take. We aim to leave the client having provided some value, even if that is just having clarified their thinking.

  9. Only we present our work. We do this in collaboration with our clients, but we won’t take part in processes where key decision makers have information about us and our approach relayed to them second hand.

  10. Every problem is different. Every solution is different. But the process and the tools to get between the two are always the same. We focus on selling the process, not the solution. We ask the client to bring us the problem, not a specification of a potential solution.

  11. We very clearly spell out how we will work together, the process we will follow, and how it will work and feel.

  12. Our full process is important, and we must begin at the beginning. We do not take on engagements where there is an expectation of beginning at a later stage.

  13. We always start with strategy first. We develop this together with the client before there is any planning or execution. Then at each stage we revisit the strategy to inform decisions and analysis.

  14. We will diagnose before we prescribe. As professionals, we will always begin at the beginning. As with doctors whose clients turn up asking for a prescription having googled their symptoms and self diagnosed, we will use our professional approach to take them back a step and apply our expertise to a proper diagnosis. Doctors do MRI scans, blood tests and so on before prescribing, accountants do audits, and so on. It is the way of the professional to investigate, and consider, before acting.

  15. If the client was always right, they wouldn’t need us. We need to use our specialist expertise and experience to lead them where necessary. We need to be their trusted advisor and be prepared to say no.

  16. No surprises. Not even good surprises. Because we develop the approach and the strategy together, set clear expectations, and deliver it together, there should be no surprises between us and a client, positive or negative. We only deliver on expectations, never exceed them or fall short — because we have successfully aligned the client expectations with good and regular communications along the way. To this end we don’t do ‘big reveal’ presentations or do ‘ta da!’ delivery.

  17. We will be proud to be profitable through charging the correct amount for the value of our services. Profit allows us to create a stable business that means we can focus better on delivering the best result for clients, rather than chasing the next client. It means we can invest in professional development and tools that allow us to constantly improve our services to clients. It allows us to pay well to attract and retain the best talent to serve our clients. And most importantly it allows us the financial security to be able to say 'no' to clients when they most need to hear it, but may not want to. Therefore we don't work for free, provide discounts or accept poor payment terms, and we will be tough on late payment. Those are signs that a client doesn't value what we do.

  18. We will constantly review our work, our process and ideas and seek to improve.