Are you looking to grow your intellectual property practice? While building relationships with prospects is important, it's equally essential to maintain and nurture relationships with your existing clients. In fact, prioritizing client relationships can be more critical to the success of your practice than targeting new prospects. In this article, I'll discuss why focusing on your contacts and existing clients is so important, and share tips for implementing a communication strategy that can help you keep those relationships strong.
The field of intellectual property is built on relationships. The problem is typically we think of building relationships with prospects and targets in order to keep the pipeline of new work flowing. This is very important in sustaining a practice and I've written about this previously. However these are not the only relationships that you need to maintain. Don't forget about your existing client base! In fact, I would argue that it is more important to take care of client relationships than speculative targets.
At the beginning of your career, it may be easier to manage a smaller practice and target market. But as you work on business development, identify more targets and grow your client base, you will need some kind of communication strategy including the frequency and method of communication for different types of relationships. A CRM can help with the management of a communications strategy, which I've written about previously.
Clients should be front and center in your communications plan. You should select a way to identify which clients are you more important clients. Are these priority clients based on overall billables? Hours? The appropriate KPI will depend on your specific scenario and goals. The important thing is to ensure your priority clients identified and organized within an organized communications strategy.
The communications strategy should also take in account different ways you can provide top tier client service and provide exceptional value. I've written about ways to improve client service previously.
The strength of your relationships with your clients can be the key indicator of the robustness of your practice. You should have a communications strategy in place for priority clients.
The main area of focus for growth centers around acquiring new clients. To convert a target to a client requires relationship building and a communications strategy. This part of your branding which I have written about previously.
To build a relationship, you want to authentically and genuinely get to know your target, uncover commonalities, and discover ways that you can be of true service to them.
Let’s say you are attending an IP conference and you meet a number of new people that you could potentially build a relationship with. You can track and manage the communication with these contacts.
To meet new contacts and identify quality leads, you are investing time, effort and budget. Maximize your return on this investment by makin sure you build and maintain the relationship.
An under utilized relationship that can help grow your practice are relationships with referrer sources. These could be other professionals (for example, accountants) that work with the same market niche you want to work with them. These could be also other IP professionals that provide referrals due to conflict, for example.
These relationships will likely not command as much attention as client and target relationships, but they should remain on your radar. Remember their names when you meet them at an event or engage with them on social media.
Referrers can prove to be important relationships in growing your business, often without execution of a complicated communications strategy.
The field of intellectual property is built on relationships. The future of your practice can be predicted by the strength of your relationships with clients, targets and referrers.
It is important to maintain relationships in the field of IP. While building relationships with potential clients is essential for growing a practice, it is equally important to maintain relationships with existing clients. Creating a communication strategy that includes frequency and methods of communication can be implemented using customer relationship management (CRM) tools. It is key to focus on clients, leads, and referrers to maintain a healthy IP practice.