After 20 years in client service in one role or another, I have come to rely on what I lovingly refer to as the ‘3F’ philosophy for evaluating client relationships and thus, how to know what relationships to spend time cultivating and which ones to let go.
WHAT? You say. Let a client relationship go? YES. Cutting ties with clients that don’t fit the mold is just as beneficial as adding ones that do, or better yet, growing ones that already do.
The ‘3F’ philosophy of client evaluation is as simple (and as complicated) as this: Fun. Fame. Fortune. (Not necessarily in that order). One of the Fs is a must but don’t settle for just one!
Fun – Is the client contact and/or the client work fun for you and/or the people you work with?
Maybe the client is a non-profit or an interesting product manufacturer or service provider, or better yet, maybe your contact is just great to work with. Don’t under value this. Great relationships are born this way. Cultivate it and find a way to use this relationship for Fame and Fortune (see below).
Fame – Is the client and/or the work able to bring notoriety to you and/or your company?
If the client is a well-known brand, non-profit, or if you are able to do industry award-winning work on either side of the fence, leverage that for your 15 minutes of fame. Use P.R., awards, blogs, email, social media and more to shout your good news from the rooftops and bring you and your company some well-deserved attention. Then, find your way to Fortune and Fun.
Fortune – Is the client and/or the work able to bring home the bacon?
Most clients will fall into the Fortune category as they pay the bills, but this can be a bit monotonous and will potentially burn you and other talent out over time. Often, the key money generating clients are the least fun. How can you make these relationships Fun and leverage the relationships for Fame?
Every, and I mean EVERY client MUST bring one of these ‘Fs’ to the table. If not, make it happen or make ’em go away. If you don’t, they will infest your motivation and the motivation of the talent around you. Identify which clients bring which ‘Fs’ to the table and set a plan in motion for how to grow those business relationships to ‘2Fs’ or the awe-inspiring ‘3F’ game winner.