25 Jun The 1st Commandment
The 1st Commandment
1. Client retention begins with the “Right Clients” under the “Right Terms”
The first two commandments given to Moses were about defining the relationship God expected to have with His people. In like manner (but admittedly less earthshaking), Tenacity’s 1st commandment of client retention is intended to define and govern the relationship that providers of services should have with their clients.
You’ve heard us say before that the two most important decisions that any business makes are: 1) “With whom they choose to do business” and 2) “Who they decide to hire.” “Right Clients” is all about choosing to only pursue and contract with prospects that meet the specific criteria that are predictive of success, based on your past experiences. Executional obedience demands leadership and discipline.
Said another way; No matter how tempting, thou shalt not accept contracts, due to expediency or revenue pressure, that we know from past failures, have those same destructive and harmful characteristics that make long-term value creation a remote possibility.
If you could adopt only one principle of Clients for Life®, this would be it. We believe that if your criteria are comprehensive and your implementation consistent, that you can ultimately reduce your overall rate of attrition by 50%. Closing the front door on non-aligned prospects and adhering to a well-defined checklist of required contractual terms, will do more to empower your organization to bring in great and sustainable clients than pretty much anything else you can do.
It’s not easy. We’ve been there. Sales people will push back, then maybe even pout for a while. Sticking to your guns is worth it though. I’ll never forget many years ago when our Division President (and now emeritus Tenacity Partner), Bill Edmundson spoke at one of my sales meetings and announced to a very skeptical team, “If you can’t find us clients that meet these criteria, I promise you that we’ll find sales people who can.” It was a powerful antidote for skepticism and pouting, and it worked. It’s amazing how great a negotiator you become when your limits have been set in stone in advance.
I’m also reminded of the principled nature of another former mentor, Lou Pritchett, at P&G who memorably told me, “Steve, it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.” We urge you to give your organization the great gift of establishing for them the “right clients” and the “right terms” then modeling the principled leadership it requires to sustain them. Now is the right time.
Steve & John