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David Finlay: Finding new business is only half the battle

Ian McKenna MM blog 2013

As we enter the new season of the Barclays Premier League there are certainly many new dynamics to take into account. Anticipation mounts over whether David Moyes can maintain the Man United bandwagon, if Jose Mourinho can recapture old glories and if Manuel Pellegrini can ‘engineer’ some silverware back to City.

A battle off the field has also ensued thanks to the new kid on the block, BT Sport, throwing down a challenge to the old master Sky. In order to attract a new audience BT has inevitably had to embark upon a raft of marketing initiatives and introduce many new concepts, be it via punditry or gadgetry, to try and overthrow Sky’s power over the Premier League coverage.

It remains to be seen if these will work but it is clear that capturing the attention of any potential new customers is not always easy.

While BT’s initial marketing barrage is important in securing new customers, it would also be prudent to take a long hard look at the quality of coverage/service and constant improvements provided by Sky on a regular basis. After all, it is those firms expertly servicing their existing client banks that will clearly maintain the solid foundations on which to move forward in the future. And this is a formula that can translate to most types of business.

Focusing on the intermediary market and it is vital to get the balance right between properly servicing established clients and targeting new ones.

Both attracting and retaining clients is easier said than done as competition remains a key component to any market dynamic.

Resources have to be divided correctly on an individual basis. Intermediary firms should view their business as being unique and as such should look to grow at a pace at which they can maintain standards. Of course some growth may be more urgent but a short-term strategy can’t be used as an excuse to reduce standards.

An essential formula is to constantly assess offerings to make sure that firms are giving true value. With clients more financially savvy than ever thanks to the wealth of research tools available at their fingertips, it is evident that firms illustrating that they can add real value in terms of expertise and experience are the ones that will continue to succeed.

As a general rule of thumb, client retention is not a project to embark upon and/or revisit every so often. It should be a philosophy which should be ingrained at the heart of any business, large or small.

With this in mind it is important that intermediary firms are fully aware of a) how much and what type of information a client is privy to and b) focus on how they can be one step ahead and offer greater depth of knowledge and expertise to better service any present and future  requirements. And when that first piece of business has been written it’s vital to view this as just the beginning rather than the end.

A robust post-sales process can often be a key element in building the first steps to a long-term relationship with a client. Simple things like organising renewal reminders, diarising regular reviews and adding them to a mailing list which contains relevant, interesting content can all help cement relations and establish that all important bond of trust.
This is all relatively simple. Nothing I have relayed here is particularly new or ground-breaking but when we are desperately trying on keep on top of things or focusing a little too much on finding new ways to attract clients, we can all be a little guilty of forgetting the basics.

David Finlay is intermediary managing director at Barclays


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