Developing your business

Creating sustainable competitive advantage

The result of great strategy, well implemented, is the creation of sustainable competitive advantage.

The source of this sustainable competitive advantage will never be a ‘silver bullet’ solution (by which we mean a single differentiating factor which competitors are unable to match) but rather a combination of elements which together create a client proposition that is unique and difficult to
emulate.

Indeed, if one were to objectively compare a firm with its peer group competitors, any differences would be barely discernible.  All firms will have similar brands, client bases, people, technology etc.  When viewed through such a lens they are objectively very similar.  Indeed, often the only area of distinction between such firms will be their cultures and, within this, their leadership approach.  This underlines the importance of values and culture in the strategy process.

In this sense we consider strategy to be about recipes rather than ingredients.

A skilled chef will craft a meal using the same ingredients as the enthusiastic amateur. Yet the latter will invariably look upon the work of the former with both envy and admiration in equal measure. In the same way, we focus on helping you to assemble and blend your ingredients, similar as they may be to your competitors, into a recipe that is irresistible to your clients and devilishly difficult to emulate!

Developing client relationships

Putting in place an appropriately structured approach to the management of client relationships will become increasingly important as firms grow, sophisticated clients become more demanding, and competitive pressures mount.

As relationships broaden and deepen, the imperative for professionals to manage client interactions by adopting an integrated and managed approach increases.

In many markets the requirement for effective client relationship management solutions that embrace systems, processes and cultural dimensions has moved from the creation of a source of competitive advantage to representing a necessity for survival.

This pressure will only be increased by further deregulation of the professions and the additional competitive pressures created both by new entrants to traditional markets and the allure of substitute services.

Client Relationship Management Programme

A Client Relationship Management (CRM) programme is a means by which a firm can create and implement a multi-faceted, measured, and systematic approach to the management and development of client relationships.

Such a programme will typically be tiered with higher levels of focus being applied to those clients of high current and future importance but with a benchmark standard enjoyed by all. Defining this benchmark level correctly is vital to ensure that it is both meaningful in terms of client experience and manageable within available resources and priorities.

Key Client Management

A natural development from a Client Relationship Management programme is the establishment of a Key Client Management programme.

Typically, this will initially focus on a small number of clients with high potential for increasing share of wallet, broadening and deepening services sold, and providing sustainable revenue streams. The programme will put in place a systematic approach to maximising the value of these relationships.

The lessons learned from these leading key client accounts can then be applied more widely; they represent good practice which will benefit all relationships.

A collateral benefit of a Key Client Programme for many large professional service organisations is that it provides a structure for interaction and communication between senior professionals. Such regular internal communication is easy to neglect in the normal working day. It is very common for these structured discussions to yield additional opportunities and benefits that were not initially anticipated.

Partner roles and reward

Being clear about the role and expectation of a partner is central to building a high-performance professional services business.

The way in which the duties of partners are defined, measured, and rewarded should be wholly aligned with the wider performance management approach within the firm. It is simply not tenable to have different yardsticks applied.

We work with leadership teams to clearly define the role of the partner, setting expectations and ensuring that each partner contributes to the best of their abilities and is rewarded accordingly.

This may involve designing remuneration systems or assisting with performance reviews, acting as an independent sounding-board or advisor.

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