Why account directors don’t (usually) win new client business

Maybe you’re an account director, targeted with a new business revenue and wondering how you can possibly achieve that at the same time as servicing the accounts you’ve got.

Or perhaps you’re the business owner of a professional services company wondering why your account managers or client service directors rarely seem to bring in any new clients themselves.

Both of you want to know why it doesn’t seem to work. And, more importantly, what you can do about it.

New business means new clients

By new business, I actually mean new clients – people and organisations you’ve never worked with before and have no direct connection with, but would very much like to work with because they are potentially a good fit.

Account directors/managers keep the business going

In a professional services business, account directors have a vital job to do. They look after the clients. They make sure clients get what they are paying for, on time and on budget. They keep them happy. Without this in place, you will lose the clients you do have, and there will be no more business.

New business needs a different mindset

The very simple reason that account directors don’t (usually) win new clients by themselves is that you need two very different mindsets to do these two very different jobs.

Inside the mind of a good account director…

  1. Our clients are everything to our business. Without them, we are nothing.
  2. Must write those 11 CDPs (client development plans) for our bigger clients to make sure I keep on top of those forecasted revenue targets from existing clients.
  3. Three clients want a face-to-face catch up next week – that’s a lot of travel…
  4. This client has hit a really big problem and needs us quickly, so I’ll have to put the new biz stuff on hold.
  5. I mustn’t forget to reply to those client emails – they’ve been flagged in my inbox for 2 days already.
  6. I said I’d send those costs over by end of play today – I must get it done now (5.27pm). Oh, drat. Better chase the subcontractors first and apologise to the client, sort that tomorrow.
  7. So, you gave me the wrong brief and want an entirely new set of costs for tomorrow? No problem, my pleasure!
  8. Specify and install a CRM for keeping in touch with clients on new services, company successes, upselling and stuff? Isn’t that something the new biz team would be doing? Oh yes, that’s us! Righty ho….

When you have one person doing both jobs – and it often happens, especially in smaller businesses – what usually happens is that neither job is done brilliantly, and client service levels are compromised to try and squeeze in some new business activity.

Is it any surprise it’s challenging to focus on bringing in new clients, when the ones you have need such a lot of looking after?

Inside the mind of a good new business director…

  1. Our clients are everything to our business. Without any new ones, we will become nothing.
  2. A client called with a big urgent new project today. Our account director will be busy looking after them. (Thank heaven I’m not involved.) I’ll crack on and create a proper marketing/new biz plan.
  3. Our pipeline is looking thinner than it should; I must give lead generation a boost / get on the phone.
  4. I need to analyse all of last year’s prospect meetings, wins and losses to find out what worked… and what didn’t.
  5. We’re behind on follow up – and as we’re averaging 9 contacts before conversion, that’s a lot of keeping in touch to do.
  6. Great – 4 new prospect meetings in the next week or two, and all a good fit, well qualified. That’s a lot of travel, then a lot of work to progress those, cost them up, look at solutions etc. Better make sure I’m free to focus on those.
  7. I need to look at new channels to market, or perhaps a strategic alliance. Some careful planning to be done when I have a mo.
  8. Social media? What, me? Oh, and a new website? Ah, isn’t that something the marketing team would be doing? Oh yes, that’s us! Righty ho…

A good new business director will care only about the clients they are going to acquire in the future. And how to get the organisation in front of those clients.

Separate new business from looking after clients

The answer lies in separating out your new business work from your existing client work so that employees can work in one mindset or the other – but not both. How you do this depends very much on your size, and here are some tips and suggestions to get you thinking about what’s right for you.

  • Unless you are perfectly positioned and already very well known in your area of expertise, new business needs experienced planning and strategic thinking before any tactics are implemented.
  • New business (strategy and implementation) often suits a part-time role, thought client support rarely does.
  • Both new business strategy and ongoing marketing activity can be quite easily outsourced, client work cannot.
  • Once the strategy is ready, a lower-level new business/marketing executive role can be combined with an office admin role.
  • It is worth carefully selecting and investing in the right CRM (customer relationship management) system to make it easier to manage both your prospect and client databases.
  • Think about automating as much of your marketing process as possible – either through your website with tools such as MailChimp or AWeber, or other bespoke marketing automation software.

 Still wondering how to crack new business in your business?

If you’d like more help in making your new business strategy work harder, I’m happy to have a 30 minute consultation call (free of charge in the UK) on 07827 297569 and share my thoughts and experiences with you. And if you’d like to take things further – and it seems like we’re a good fit for each other – I’m available to hire on a retained or by-project basis.

Can you think of any other business owners or account directors who might appreciate this article? Feel free to share it with your connections using my (new!) share buttons on the right hand side.

It’s always good to hear others’ viewpoints, so please do let others know how you’ve tried tackling the clash between client services and new business – and whether it’s worked for you – by commenting on this post at the bottom.

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