“Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” commands Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And he gets a perfect cup of piping hot English brew exactly the way he likes it. Three factors are at work: 1) Picard knows what he wants, 2) he articulates it clearly, and 3) he has a system, the starship’s “replicator,” for producing his desired outcome every time.
Too bad you can’t just step up and order perfect clients like Picard and his hot tea. But in the real world, you can use a process called “Slots and Replication” to achieve a similar goal: When you clearly articulate the attributes and character of your ideal clients, you can put in place a system for replicating them. This system—asking for and getting quality referrals—is the lifeblood of many successful businesses.
The Ideal Client Profile
Before you talk to your existing clients and strategic alliances about referrals, you need to create an Ideal Client Profile. This description should be detailed and specific.
Think about who your best clients are right now, and consider what makes them so great. Ask yourself, In what ways are they alike financially, professionally, or personally? What attitudes and aptitudes set them apart from the masses and make them such exceptional, enjoyable clients?
Slots and Replication
Your objective should be to take on only those clients who match your Ideal Client Profile. Once you have written your Ideal Client Profile, you can figure out how many people who match this criteria you’ll need to meet your business development goals. It’s a pretty simple calculation to establish the income you desire to earn and extrapolate the number of clients required to achieve it. Begin with the end in mind, as Covey says.
With this valuable information in hand, you can create a business management tool I call “Slots and Replication” to track your acquisition of great clients and keep you aware of how many more are needed for you to reach your goals. Here’s how you can make your own:
- On one piece of paper, print your Ideal Client Profile.
- On another piece of paper, number backward, starting with the total number of ideal clients you need, and print a list of your ideal clients. Don’t list all of your existing clients; include only those who already match your Ideal Client Profile (they match every item on your Ideal Client Profile).
- Continue numbering backward until you have “slots” to represent all of the ideal clients you need to reach your income goals. Use additional sheets of paper if necessary. For example, if you need 100 ideal clients, then you might have four sheets with 25 slots each. Maybe you’d already have 27 clients’ names you could include, and you’d see at a glance that you have the additional 73 slots to fill.
Now you’re ready to attract those additional 73 people. The objective is to replicate the 27 who are already ideal. You’re absolutely crystal clear about how many and the kind of clients you want. It’s time to talk to those 27 and see who else they know—who are just like them. Your existing ideal clients are your replicators. You must simply give them a precise description (your Ideal Client Profile of your business), and ask them for the names of people who meet it. Show your strategic alliances and centers of influence your Ideal Client Profile to obtain referrals from them also. Make a list of your strategic alliances/centers of influence and potential strategic alliances/centers of influence (think outside the box) who you think have clients who fit your profile or they would know people who would fit your profile.
So it is with clients. Once you define the type of person you most want to work with and let your clients and colleagues know about it, you’ll start to see this type of person everywhere. It won’t be a matter of chasing down prospects to fill those slots; instead, you’ll easily attract and notice ideal potential clients.
Figure out exactly what you want, state it clearly, and allow the “replicators” to work for you. Reap the rewards!
Use the online exercise to help you get started by going to: https://accountabilitycoach.com/assessments/icp/
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