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What to do after ranking your clients

by | Feb 26, 2022

This is the third email in a series on ranking clients. Check out the previous issues: How to rank your clients and What you can learn from ranking your clients. If you enjoyed this series, feel free to share it!

 

You can learn a lot from ranking your clients. It gives you a very unique view of your business and client base that you won’t find in your financial reports, CRM, or project management software. But, ranking your clients should also be more than a thought experiment. It’s not just some nice group exercise to run during a management meeting or workshop with an outside consultant. It’s a roadmap to realistically improving your client base, marketing strategy, stress level (of both you and your employees), increasing your profits, and improving your overall agency.

After you’ve ranked your clients, sorted through the list, and gleaned whatever insights you can from the rankings, you’ll need to take the scariest step and actually do something with that information. That means firing some clients (which, I don’t care what the gurus and coaches say, is scary), but it also means updating and improving the rest of your agency. Use what you learned while ranking your clients to improve your processes, get new testimonials, ask for referrals, improve your relationships with existing clients, and win new best-fit clients.

 

Fire the F-tier clients:

While you shouldn’t fire every client that ever looked at you the wrong way, there may be one or two nightmare clients that should be let go. These are the clients that’re totally unreasonable, abuse you (and your employees), and never pay remotely on time no matter how much you follow up. These clients are doing more harm than good and should absolutely be dropped to free up capacity (and headspace) for newer, better clients. The only reason to keep these clients is if your business will literally fall apart and not be able to make payroll without them (and, if that’s the case, you’ll want to add them to your shortlist for replacement).

(Note: You may not have F-tier clients and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t curve the grade and manufacture an F-tier just to fire clients.)

 

Replace the D-tier clients:

Firing all your bottom-tier clients is entirely unreasonable (and probably why no one follows thru with that bit of advice). Instead of outright dropping 20%+ of your clients, aim to replace them. Keep a shortlist of your D-tier clients and, as you onboard new better-fit clients, slowly begin firing and offboarding those old poor-fit clients. You may not see an immediate financial benefit in your bottom line as you replace ‘bad’ revenue with ‘good’ revenue. But, you’ll be freeing up capacity and improving your employees’ work lives which will have a downstream impact as you continue picking up better clients.

 

Revisit B and C-tier clients:

There’s a reason your B and C-tier clients aren’t A-tier and it isn’t because they’re bad clients. They’re perfectly good clients. They’re just not great clients. And, that difference between B/C-tier and A-tier could be caused by a variety of things like: they aren’t the correct niche fit, they don’t fit perfectly in your processes, they don’t buy the full suite of services, etc. Figure out why these clients didn’t make the A-tier and how you can improve your relationship with them (or, if you even have to improve anything. B/C-tier clients are absolutely fine too. They still pay bills, and not every client has to be perfect).

 

Ask A-tier clients for testimonials and referrals :

Your A-tier clients are presumably perfect fit clients that you have a great relationship with, do your best work for, and make business easy. That makes them a great starting point for a targeted and intentional testimonial and/or referral campaign (which you can then expand to your B/C-tier clients). Start by asking 5 of your past and present A-tier clients if they’d be open to leaving a review or if they know anyone that’s looking for help with whatever you specialize in. Then, slowly work your way down your client ranking asking each client for a review and/or referral.

(In case you don’t know where to start or how to phrase things, here’s the exact ask I’ve been sending smaller clients recently: “Also, if it isn’t too much to ask, I’d really appreciate a review. 🙏 It helps. https://www.google.com/search?q=eckstein+tax+services“. It’s simple and it works. No need to overthink it. Although, I’d suggest spending more time and being more intentional when asking for testimonials from larger, higher-ticket clients. For that, check out this article by Sean D’Souza: https://www.hotjar.com/blog/testimonials-guide/ or this shorter synopsis by Jonathan Stark: jonathanstark.com/building-the-perfect-testimonial)

 

Review your marketing strategy :

Ranking your clients is a form of customer research that can be easily done in an afternoon (as opposed to interviewing customers or running expensive surveys). And, customer research turns good marketing into great marketing. Grab your marketing strategy (or, if you’re like me, your napkin-math marketing strategy) and see if the assumptions you’d previously made about your Ideal Client Profile line up with the reality of your client rankings. Then, update your strategy and ICP to include the lessons you’ve learned from your client rankings.

 

Action Item:

Ask your A-tier clients for testimonials.

(Speaking of reviews – if you’ve been enjoying this newsletter, I’d really appreciate a review 🙏)

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