Mindset matters

At the Client Experience Institute, we look forward to sharing a four-part series associated with how business development should be reimagined as we collectively embrace operating in both a 2D and 3D environment.

Commencing with this issue, we will explore why adopting a growth mindset will contribute to your future success and advancement.

Throughout the majority of 2020, we have all witnessed an avalanche of self-imposed limitations and beliefs that impede business development progress. This has included such things as organizations being too focused on revenue recovery to entertain a new supply partner, not being comfortable fostering relationships in a virtual world and not possessing a proven process to generate a proper return on effort.

Even though these considerations are worth contemplating, let’s take a moment to explore why it is so essential to adapt our thinking and apply a different approach.

Start with the word mindset. A mindset is a set of beliefs or attitudes that each person forms over time. A mindset is a lens through which we see the world. It is the birthplace of your thoughts and actions. How you see the world affects what you do and, ultimately, how you perform.

To underscore how this plays out, it would be useful to share a real-world example. During the early phases of the pandemic, we recognized that our business model had to be re-engineered. As a learning and development organization, our clientele could not conduct in-person training, and they had limited funds to invest in staff.

We knew a pivot was required, so we created a virtual on-demand business development platform that allowed professionals to learn at their own pace. This was augmented by a series of video coaching sessions, a toolkit of materials and a program guide incorporating testing to measure performance.

This necessitated a fresh approach requiring the deployment of a new learning management software program, creating a plethora of original content and devising an online experience that people would ultimately want to pay for. Furthermore, the way in which our firm had to commercialize position, and sell the offering was also a new opportunity to embrace.

To be brutally honest, our organization had never done anything like this before, but we practiced what we espoused and applied a growth mindset to the initiative.

In guiding, advising and coaching hundreds of professionals, we underscore the importance of remembering that your attitude truly does determine the altitude you can ascend to. By adopting the following thoughts and actions, it is indeed possible to achieve more.

  • Talents, abilities, and intelligence can be developed.
  • Embrace challenges with a desire to learn.
  • Find inspiration in others’ success.
  • Accept criticism as part of the learning process.
  • Focus on the process without worrying about the outcome.
  • Persevere in the face of setbacks and obstacles.
  • Embrace novelty with the desire to learn new skills.
  • Surround yourself with people who possess a growth mindset.
  • The unknown is a great place for self-development.
  • Know that it’s OK not to know.

Take a moment to reflect on these points and further invest in yourself by expanding your horizons. Everyone is looking for that special formula. However, the journey of business development starts with an outlook, perspective and growth mindset.

Marc Rosen is co-founder of The Client Experience Institute™

Expanding enterprise value

Businesses are searching for incremental ways to expand their value without having to incur additional investment costs. A great place to start is by reimagining how your client engagement process can create greater client loyalty.

We recommend adopting a five-stage process so you can become a firm of choice to all the stakeholders you serve.

This model encompasses client acquisition, onboarding, workflows and performance, as well as relationship management. The objective is to increase the lifetime value of the clients you serve while creating a culture where employees are more engaged and invested in the outcomes.
To provide the needed context, let’s explore each stage in further detail.

Client acquisition — The process, tools and activities utilized to attract and win new customers with greater regularity. By embracing the new norm, it is easier to engage subject matter experts across your company who otherwise would not be involved. Take the time to leverage all dimensions of your human capital capabilities to better position and portray the enterprise. This is a great development step, and it drives higher levels of employee engagement.

Client onboarding — The process to engage, educate and integrate so business can be conducted in an efficient, client-friendly manner. At this stage, capture critical client intelligence about how you can make it as easy as possible to conduct business with your company. Ensure you understand how the customer wants to interact and capture the relevant input into a CRM system.

Workflow — The essential interactions that are conducted to satisfy timelines, budgets, deliverables and expectations associated with matters important to the client. This area is being disrupted as more historical touchpoints are becoming automated and streamlined. Be mindful of reducing the number of noncritical interactions to achieve greater efficiency for those you serve.

Performance management — The proactive monitoring and validation of client satisfaction based upon the firm’s performance. This is a huge area of opportunity to both get feedback and establish joint goals to achieve. In so many dealings, no pre-agreed KPIs are established and, as a result, it becomes more qualitative of an assessment. Do not leave either money or goodwill on the table when you meet or exceed expectations. Create a dashboard of distinction and take credit for your accomplishments.

Relationship management — The intentional execution of companywide activities that foster trust, loyalty and brand affinity. In my experience, the vast number of enterprises that serve privately held companies are not professionally trained in key account management discipline. Make it a point to establish guidelines for what constitutes your relationship management practices and make sure the client understands its role as well. This is another area of opportunity to establish clear expectations throughout the client lifecycle. Do not leave it to chance and have it result in higher cost to service realities, misaligned expectations or lower lifetime values.

We recommend that you begin by focusing on one or two areas while keeping in mind the broader end-to-end process. It is amazing what you discover and the incremental, as well as quantum, strides realized that will contribute to the value creation of your enterprise.

Marc Rosen is co-founder of The Client Experience Institute™

Accelerate movement, create possibility

Take action that creates distinction for your clients

Given the challenges associated with emerging from the recent chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies will be scrutinizing with greater regularity their operating expenses and be more discerning about what they decide to fund, versus reduce or eliminate. We need to shift the paradigm from being a necessary business expense to a return on investment.

Consider the roles of value creator and business catalyst. A value creator is focused on seeking out and finding opportunities to impact its client’s business. It is relentless in identifying enterprise needs and possesses the ability to mobilize its extended network to find solutions of relevance. Additionally, value creators possess the acumen to subtly market their contribution in a manner that the client acknowledges as well as appreciates.

A business catalyst is determined to accelerate movement and create future possibilities. It is viewed by clientele as a forward-thinking professional that unleashes potential opportunities.

There are six levers of value creation, areas of impact that can change the conversation and force a discipline of viewing things through a different perspective. These levers are revenue enhancement, cost optimization, risk avoidance, ease of doing business, profitability expansion and business process improvement.

To better understand how these can be put to use, refer to the following examples, understanding that some of these recommendations are outside the traditional scope of what your firm provides. Do not limit your thinking, as it takes leveraging an entire ecosystem to truly make a difference.

  • Revenue enhancement. Consider referring a future client, channel partner, subject matter expert or employee, or explore creating an advisory board to create greater velocity in the business.
  • Cost optimization. Provide industry comparisons, introduce suppliers who can lower the client’s cost of doing business and review how the cost of goods is calculated, as often SKUs are either over- or under-burdened relative to true unit cost.
  • Risk avoidance. It’s essential to conduct a complete risk assessment of the business that spans human capital, supply chain, proper insurance coverages, cybersecurity and client risks associated with financial health.
  • Ease of doing business. Streamline workflows, leverage automation and make recommendations on how the client can enhance its client service by adopting best practices from other customers you serve.
  • Profitability enhancement. Explore ways to establish a dashboard of distinction to drive outcomes and perform a client/segment profitability assessment. Suggest introducing leadership to industry or owner groups like Vistage, EO or your own roundtable.
  • Business process improvement. Evaluate outsourcing and review critical workflows to determine areas for optimization, especially with a remote workforce. Conduct Lean or Six Sigma events.

The key is demonstrating a willingness to take action in a mindful manner that creates distinction. Do not wait until the client grants you permission. Go on the offense by being curious, demonstrating empathy and showing you care. You will be rewarded by being recognized as more than a reliable vendor and will elevate your status to being a true value creator.

Marc Rosen, co-founder, The Client Experience Institute™; president, The Vector Group LLC.

To build great relationships, you need to want more for people than you want from people

In this month’s column, we profile the fourth stage associated with the Adviser of the Future Continuum. At this level of contribution, you are known as a value accelerator to your clientele, extended network and internal organization.

This type of individual is recognized for making the complicated understandable by shining a light on what is both relevant and meaningful. Additionally, they possess a unique ability to collaborate across a wide spectrum of individuals by being relatable, authentic and credible.

They have the uncanny sense of recognizing and acting upon those value-creating opportunities that impact the client’s business.

In most cases, it is a relentless focus on contributing economic gain by findings ways to favorably impact the revenues, costs, profits, risk, human capital and business processes of the organizations they passionately serve. Additionally, these individuals possess the capability to quantify their impact and communicate their contribution without coming across as self-promoting.

Perceptive and resourceful
To illustrate how the “value accelerator” impacts others, I would like to highlight a recent example where being perceptive and resourceful yielded substantial impact for an organization that needed to replace a valuable position within the firm.

After having a casual conversation with one of the leaders of the business, he mentioned that a critical position needed to be filled. Unfortunately, the overall responses were somewhat underwhelming. This friend of the firm decided to immediately access his robust network and within 48 hours, was able to unveil two qualified candidates for consideration.

He went the extra mile of speaking briefly with each candidate and providing the appropriate level of insight before brokering a more formal introduction.

In speaking with this individual about this particular experience, he shared that it had been more than seven months since they had last spoken. He demonstrated such genuine interest in how the person and overall business was doing, that the owner unconditionally shared a number of personal and professional developments that had transpired. Given his value creation mentality, he asked in such a manner that disarmed any concerns about confidentiality and it was a natural conversation that emerged.

A sense of empowerment
For most individuals, this might seem like a daunting characteristic or attribute to adopt. However, when exhibiting this type of inquisitive and caring behavior, we feel a sense of empowerment. The key is demonstrating a willingness to take action in a mindful manner that creates distinction.

The lesson learned is you cannot increase your relationship capital unless you value people. To build great relationships, you need to want more for people than you want from people.

I’ll close with a quote from Albert Einstein that captures the essence of how the value accelerator views the world: “Try not to be a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of The Vector Group LLC.

Never stop looking for ways to give your clients a boost

This column marks the beginning of a five-part series emphasizing how the adviser of the future will delight stakeholders they serve by embracing a perspective of continuous contribution.

The characteristics and qualities to be discussed span the entire lifecycle of a business. My hope is to inspire both the owner and advisory community to adopt a different mindset to enable even higher levels of performance.

In working with numerous businesses and their respective advisory network, it is apparent that higher levels of potential value contribution are often not identified and discussed.

This could stem from the business not knowing what is possible to achieve, either individually or across its adviser network. In other cases, the advisory community is waiting to be directed by the client and may not have a clear sense or courage of conviction to recommend a series of value enhancement insights that align with the strategy of the organization.

With this thought in mind, it becomes important to embrace a more proactive approach.

A true client champion is a fearless promoter who makes it a point to possess a deep understanding of the client’s business and is keenly aware of what matters most so they can direct their efforts in an efficient as well as effective manner. This type of individual engages in the following types of activities to establish a cadence of continuous contribution:

1. You always challenge yourself to answer this question: How do I make my client’s business more successful?
2. You are constantly on the lookout for potential new customers who fit the correct buying profile.
3. You are willing to assist in finding human capital who can contribute to the success of the enterprise. You leverage your extended network and demonstrate a resourcefulness in accessing new talent for consideration.
4. You strive to find opportunities to get the client recognized by nominating them for awards, speaking engagements, serving on a committee, authoring content and sharing recent successes on social media.
5. You stay apprised of pertinent developments of note by engaging in social media, utilizing Google alerts, receiving client newsletters, reviewing client websites and keeping abreast of pertinent industry trends that impact your clientele.
6. You have the ability to access a vetted network of functional experts who for both planned and unplanned circumstances, can be a potential source of support and serve as a voice of reason.
7. You broker introductions to other companies or individuals who have distinctive competencies that your client can learn from.

Adopting this type of client-centric perspective helps to ensure that we keep top of mind additional ways we can contribute to the clients we serve and feel a greater sense of impact, beyond the normal expectations that are part of being a highly competent professional. By getting into the routine of thinking and acting as a client champion, you become more memorable and expand your view of what is possible to achieve.

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience™ Institute and president of The Vector Group LLC

Learn to do the small things in better ways

This month, we profile the fifth and final stage of the Relationship Capital Continuum. At this level of engagement, you are known as an indispensable partner to the enterprises and stakeholders you serve. You are a rare individual, sought after for your guidance, insights and superior judgment.

You are recognized for your wisdom, intuition and ability to cut through the clutter in such a way that the complex becomes understandable. You have the ability to relate to others regardless of position, offer a fresh perspective and envision things with the end in mind.

You are able to influence and impact strategy and engage in matters of extreme importance to your client. You have a seat at the table and serve as a catalyst for advancing your business. You are deeply entrenched in your client’s business matters and are asked to provide guidance well beyond your area of specialization.

A closer look
A family business was contemplating the idea of forming an advisory board, yet was somewhat reluctant to pull the trigger given both the investment in time, as well as the transparency that goes into sharing all of the confidential information associated with the process.

The company’s business adviser understood the nature of the concern and proceeded to broker a meeting with another family business that had gone through the process of successfully engaging an advisory board. Additionally, this consultant truly understood the concerns and invested the time to ensure that the specific issues were addressed.

As a result of this meeting, the idea of forming a family council was also introduced and a number of other lessons learned were shared.

This conversation served as a catalyst to move forward with the formation of the board and the family was appreciative of how the consultant went above and beyond to ensure they were comfortable with the overall process and intent.

By truly understanding the stated and unstated concerns of the client, this adviser spent the requisite time to leverage his extended network and properly calibrate how best to advance the dialogue in a natural and comfortable manner. This resulted in the establishment of a multi-disciplinary board that has contributed to the further professionalization of the enterprise.

Maximize your contribution
It is important to recognize that our sphere of impact is determined by the depth and breadth of our collective experiences. We must be willing to invest the requisite time and energy to surround ourselves with those people who have walked down a path that others will need to learn from. By adopting this mindset, we are in a unique position to maximize our contribution and be viewed as an indispensable partner.

I close with a great quote that captures the essence of how the indispensable partner views the world:

“Instead of thinking that you always need to do bigger things, learn to do the small things in better ways.”
— Adam Kirk Smith

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of the Vector Group, LLC

Take the time to better understand your clientele

In exploring the five stages of the relationship capital continuum, we have examined the roles of subject matter expert, the voice of reason and the trusted adviser.

Learning about each phase should enable you to influence others in a more profound and impactful manner.

This month, let’s look at the fourth stage. At this level of engagement, you are known as a value accelerator to the enterprises and people you serve. You are recognized for being purposeful and results oriented with a keen focus on affecting the economics of the client’s business.

By understanding the key value creation drivers, you seek to find ways to impact revenue, costs, profits, risk and the business processes of the organization you serve.

You are viewed as a co-creator of abundance, recognized for an ability to identify opportunities and translate them into enterprise value. You can quantify your impact and have the ability to market your contribution across the organization. You are respected for being business savvy, understanding your client’s business and possessing a deep network that is unconditionally willing to help.

Ask broader questions
For example, thinking outside the box can yield substantial benefits to a business that wants to aggressively scale.

After conducting a client review with the business owner, this individual asked broader questions about the state of the business and learned that the client had a huge desire to grow, but did not appear to have thought through all the considerations. She recommended a formal market expansion plan be created to model the different growth options, as well as the cost-to-serve requirements.

The brilliance of this example is the person who had the relationship with the client was in the wealth management space. She recognized that a large amount of capital would need to be deployed. She proceeded to call upon her well-established network and since she had forged a stellar reputation over the years, it was a natural for her reach out to another of her clients for assistance.

This resulted in the creation of a plan that saved the client from making unnecessary human capital investments. In addition, it provided needed focus so the business development efforts could concentrate on capturing expanded share of wallet opportunities without having to diversify into new geographies where the company did not have a presence or established infrastructure.

Success vs. significance
It is important to recognize that our sphere of impact can be so much more meaningful if we take the time to understand what is truly most important to our clientele. We must become more inquisitive and vested so our line of sight is broadened. By adopting this mindset, we are in a wonderful position to maximize our contribution and be viewed as a value accelerator.

I close with a great quote that captures the essence of how the value accelerator views the world: “Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others.”

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of the Vector Group, LLC.

Find a way to make time, even in the face of adversity

In this month’s column, we profile how the next generation trusted adviser is impacting respective stakeholders in a more profound and meaningful manner. This is the third stage of the Relationship Capital Continuum and I’ll be sharing the distinctive qualities and behaviors that this adviser should represent.

By way of background, trust is the predictability of what we say and do over an extended period of time. It often takes years to develop and moments to destroy.

Serving in the capacity as the trusted adviser, you have an unwavering sense of responsibility to honor all commitments.

This is what transforms a promise into reality and allows your actions to speak louder than words. It is about making the time when often, little is available and delivering even in the face of adversity.

Driven to excel
The stakeholders you serve appreciate and recognize the practicality of your insights, respect the quality of the advice provided and understand that you are driven by what is best for the overall organization. You are seen as an important contributor to the success of the enterprise, willing to challenge the status quo and have a knack for being relatable to a wide variety of stakeholders.

A trusted adviser is also viewed as a promoter of the client’s business, someone who is willing to make his or her professional and personal network available. You have a reputation for impacting the stakeholders you serve in ways well beyond your area of specialization.

To add further perspective, I wanted to share a brief example about how “the trusted adviser 2.0” serves others.

Several months ago, a particular magazine was recognizing multi-generational family businesses which had excelled in perpetuating growth over a sustained period of time. This individual nominated two of his clients for consideration and both were selected to be honored in front of several hundred people.

At the awards ceremony, both of the patriarchs of these family businesses actually mentioned how this adviser contributed to the success of the business and personally recognized him by name.

I happened to attend the awards ceremony and was able to witness first-hand the genuine appreciation that was extended to this person. It was not only gratifying to see, but it also affirmed my belief that the adviser community can have a profound impact in serving others.

Expand your horizons
As you reflect upon these insights, it is important to realize that we can serve others in non-traditional manners that extend well beyond our own area of specialization. The key is to possess a willingness to expand your sphere of influence and understand how to marshal resources to drive the outcomes you seek.

I close with a great quote that captures the essence of how the next generation trusted adviser needs to view the world: “The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of the Vector Group LLC

How to position yourself as a voice of reason

In this month’s column, I will profile the persona associated with being “The Voice of Reason.” This is the second stage of the relationship capital continuum and I’ll be sharing the distinctive qualities and behaviors that one would portray at this level.

When we think of our reputation, the following words echoed by Jay Danzie are so reflective of what we must be mindful of to establish higher amounts of relationship capital: “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.”

Establish a cadence
As you reflect on this statement, it is important to understand that it requires intent and higher levels of self-awareness to establish a cadence where others seek you out. When you serve in the role of “The Voice of Reason,” you are perceived as an educator, enlightener and counselor. The people you impact feel that they can learn from you and your extended network in a manner that is insightful, relatable and actionable.

You are viewed as a creative problem solver, a critical thinker and one who possesses a unique ability to challenge others by providing alternative viewpoints and options to consider. These individuals exhibit patience, build consensus, make the complicated understandable and have the uncanny ability to influence client expectations without coming across as condescending, aggressive or too commercially driven.

To add further context, I’ll share a brief story about an individual who serves as my “Voice of Reason.” As a business owner, I spend a fair amount of time exploring different client acquisition strategies and my VOR could tell that I was getting too caught up in the execution details and not thinking about it with the end in mind.

She challenged me to examine all the different leverage points, recommended a few potential service providers to speak with and was resourceful enough to introduce me to one of her clients. This individual was also in the professional service provider space and had just invested the time to scale his business, utilizing a different blend of client acquisition strategies.

Understand your impact
In this example, my “VOR” leveraged her extended network of relationship assets and allowed me to go through my own self-discovery by enlightening me versus just telling me what to do. What is interesting to underscore is that she did not possess the domain expertise herself, but understood the importance of knowing others who could impact my business.

We all have limited time to expand our network. The difference is knowing what types of investments we are willing to make to become more valuable to others. In this example, this individual understood the importance of serving as a potential revenue catalyst.

As you reflect upon these insights, it is important to recognize that our quest to continuously learn must be directed beyond our own profession to encompass areas that can impact the stakeholders we serve with greater impact.

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of the Vector Group LLC

Take the time to get to know those you serve

In a universe where the power of social networks is seemingly overtaking the perceived value of one-to-one relationships, I wanted to provide a much-needed perspective on how you can go about influencing others in a more profound and impactful manner.

Commencing with this issue, I will explore in a five-part series how you can with greater purpose and intent, establish and accelerate your relationship currency. I will share the different attributes, characteristics and actions to embrace as you ascend through the five stages of the Relationship Capital Continuum model.

By way of background, relationship capital is the distinctive value created by people in a business relationship.

It is personal and derived from one-to-one interactions because it represents the quality of your behaviors, traits and interactions over a period of time. It is a direct reflection of your character, as experienced by those who know you and can testify to your qualities.

Missed opportunities
Within the B2B space, a high percentage of client-facing individuals have established themselves as SMEs or subject matter experts within their respective fields. They are recognized for possessing domain experience and are perceived as being authentic, credible and trustworthy to the stakeholders they serve. These individuals are relied upon for their functional expertise.

Some of the typical attributes or characteristics at this level of the Relationship Capital Continuum include being technically sound, execution-focused, deliberate, mindful, attentive and more comfortable offering guidance on a limited scope of topics.

Being focused on going “deep and narrow” is extremely important and vital to specialization. However the reality of the matter is when you concentrate on demonstrating expertise, you miss a great deal of opportunity to build higher levels of relationship currency.

Understanding the Relationship ABCs is vital if you want to move beyond this level. Knowing the aspirations, beliefs and concerns of the key people you serve provides a platform for expanding the sphere of impact you can have.

We have all heard the words which ring so true to this day: “People do not care how much you know, they appreciate how much you care.”

Build your currency
With this in mind, you need to invest the requisite time to understand the passions, values and challenges, both personally and professionally, for the key stakeholders you serve. This is an iterative process, but it opens up many possibilities to distinguish yourself.

As you reflect on these insights, it is incredibly important to recognize the critical role we play in our respective spaces. We must move beyond our comfort zone to impact others in a more meaningful and profound manner. Ascending from subject matter expert to indispensable partner will open up a world of possibilities to distinguish yourself and build higher levels of relationship currency.

As we learn and grow from embracing this type of thinking, remember we live in a world of plentiful networking opportunities where our challenge is not to unveil more connections, but unleash more meaning.

Marc Rosen is co-founder at The Client Experience Institute and president of the Vector Group LLC.