How do you define an “A” client?

How do you decide who to give special treatment to? Who to pay special attention to? Who are your best clients?

I hope you don’t treat everyone the same. You should give consistent great service to all of your clients of course, but aren’t there a few people who mean more to you, professionally or personally, than the rest of your clients? What are the possibilities that could come from deepening a few special relationships? You might call them an “A” client or “platinum”, but whoever they are they should be top of mind. If you think of them more often there’s a good chance they may think of you more often.

We invest in marketing not to attract everyone but to attract more “A” clients. Having a crystal-clear vision of who you want is an important first step. Knowing in detail who those people are enables you to spot them more easily, to describe them to clients so they can spot them for you, and is the basis on which to build a compelling case for centers of influence to refer them to you. An effective description is one that reminds people of someone as soon as they hear it. Go beyond the pigeonholes of profession, age, and family status. (See: Create a client persona to better connect with prospects and referrals)

Thinking it through and committing it to paper may give you a similar experience to the Golub Group, who involved the firm in creating their client persona and suddenly began meeting more of them. (See: The unexpected insights and marketing power of a Client Persona)

So that’s your target client. But what else contributes to making them an “A”? Add to the description of who you can benefit most those people that benefit your business the most. Assets and income would certainly be part of the equation but what else could you consider as you contemplate what makes a client the best? Here are a few ideas of characteristics you might include.

They subscribe to your full suite of services – if your biggest revenue client works with you only on their portfolio and does not take advantage of planning, tax, or other services, are they an “A”? I don’t see why they would be. They do not appreciate all that value you can bring to the relationship. Since they don’t value those other services they are unlikely to refer other people who might need the services. I believe your best clients enthusiastically embrace the whole spectrum of services you offer.

They diligently follow up on their to-do items – A review meeting may result in some action items for you and some for the client. When you see them again six months later and they have not followed up on any of their to-do list, how much better off are they because they work with you? Some of the value you can provide is really up to the client. You can, of course, help them along. A reminder email or phone call from your assistant can help keep them on course. But maybe those people who embrace the process and diligently follow through warrant a little extra recognition.

They give you referrals – in the study Julie Littlechild and I did on referral behavior, one of the things we found was that firms that gave special treatment to their referral sources tended to get more. Not a big surprise once we say it out loud but something that does not occur to a lot of firms. So you may consider evaluating how many referrals a client gives you in the calculation of an “A” client. It may jump them ahead of larger clients who do not refer as consistently.

They are influencers – related to referrals, clients who can promote you within communities of your target clients may get points toward being top clients.

Loyalty and referrals are a byproduct of the quality of the relationship you have with clients. If “best” only means “biggest” it’s a shallow perspective: “we like you best because you pay us the most.” Expressing gratitude for the other ways a client makes it a rewarding relationship can lead to deeper feelings in return. The conversation can become about how many things you work on together, how rewarding it is to work with them because they get so actively involved, that they support you by speaking well of you to other people. Thinking more deeply about who you consider your best clients can take you in this direction.

How will you define your “A” clients?

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