On your client roster there are bound to be clients and work you want as well as clients and work you don’t want.
To focus on high-value clients – those whose work fits well within your wheelhouse and who can afford your services – it may be necessary to eliminate work you don’t want along with bottom-tier clients.
Releasing a client can be awkward, but it doesn’t have to be dramatic. The best time to do this is at the conclusion of a matter or at a juncture where ending the relationship makes sense. Be forthright but sensitive in letting the client know they are being released and, if possible, offer to provide a referral to someone with whom they might find a good fit.
After releasing clients and work that drags you down, you’ll have capacity to take on new work from current “good-and-great” clients, and attract prospective clients who offer work that buoys you up.
The trick is to be judicious about taking on new clients. You’ll need a system to evaluate new clients and a way to jettison them quickly if need be. Due diligence is one method; gut instinct is another.
Strategy is about knowing who and what business you need to turn away. The clearer you are in determining your direction and explaining what you want, the easier it becomes to attract and, if and when appropriate, accept new engagements.
Business development is not about getting more clients. It’s about nurturing meaningful relationships and grooming your best clients – those you really want who provide work you enjoy – while having capacity and being selective when opportunities appear.
Heather Suttie is an internationally recognized legal market strategy and management consultant to leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide.
For 25 years, she has accelerated performance within law firms and legal service businesses — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — by providing consultative direction on legal business strategy, market strategy, management strategy, and client strategy. The result is a distinctive one-of-one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage culminating in greater market share, revenue and profits.