Five ways to make it easier to hand over your precious clients
Are you handing over your precious clients to your managers? Do you trust them? As a senior executive you know you need to do it but it can be difficult. Here are five ways to make it easier.
As you’ve risen up your organisation the balance of your ‘day job’ has had to shift. If you work in professional services you probably retain some of the client-facing work and you’re a fee earner. But at this point in your career you have to learn to deliver your expertise and client-facing skills through your managers.
We often find that our clients are anxious about this ‘letting go’ of their own clients. We’re not suggesting that overnight you abdicate responsibility for all your clients (far from it), but you cannot do your job properly if you don’t trust others to handle client relationships.
So how do you go about this tricky process?
- Be honest with yourself. Have you dealt with those demons that are telling you that there is no way your clients would accept anyone else? What does it cost you and your business in the longer term? Is it actually holding you back in your role – not to mention those managers who would really like to develop their client relationship skills.
- Spend some time doing a client audit and have a plan. Look at the individuals involved and decide which of your managers is best placed to gradually take them on.
- You are very likely to have excellent client relationship skills. You probably don’t even know what it is that you do – you just do it. You need to be able to pass on some of these skills to your managers. And it’s not just what you say and what you do, it’s what you believe about yourself, your business and what you can offer to clients. Try to ‘unpack’ some of this so that you can pass it on.
- Don’t do a ‘covert’ handover and disappear. Take your manager to client meetings and gradually encourage them to call the clients themselves. At some point it will be clear that this new client relationship is secure enough for you to let them know that their account will be handled by the new manager in future. Reassure your client that you are still overseeing the work.
- Strike the right balance with your managers. Let them feel confident that you have genuinely handed over a client to them but make sure they understand that it is delegation not abdication. Be clear that you expect to be told immediately if there is any problem brewing, and you want to know if you need to pick up the phone or take them out for lunch.
For your business to be successful it is vital that this process happens, but it needs to be done in a conscious and strategic manner.
Client relationships are not a black art (although it can sometimes feel that way). There are 7 specific phases in a successful relationship with a client, and anyone can learn them. If you would like more information on this then do get in touch with us here.