Tidying up recently I can across the book again, well-worn, with page corners folded back and paragraphs heavily underlined. I wondered how much is still relevant in our new wow startup world. Here are some parts that resonated.
This chapter lists five practice development steps, the last three being very much in step with the startup approach:
1. Broadcasting to generate prospects
2. Courting a specific prospect so they become a customer
3. Superpleasing so the customer is wowed
4. Nurturing to retain that customer
5. Listening to the customer
Listening to clients
Maister makes the point that the ROI increases the further along these steps you go, emphasising this by dedicating a chapter to listening to get “a better understanding of the wants and need of clients“ and “how their needs are changing”. Indeed “a defect is a treasure” to be studied carefully.
In a premonition of the concierge approach, Maister makes the point that it is the customer’s perception of what is done that matters, not the actual work. He even quotes from Fun Boy Three “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it”. Ok probably he doesn’t know Fun Boy Three…
Get new clients or keep existing ones?
As an entrepreneur “the thrill of the chase” is hard to ignore with its “rush of adrenaline”. Nurturing existing clients can seem less “satisfying”. In Chapter 9 Maister gets into the nitty gritty of marketing to existing clients from a professional services standpoint, but from a startup perspective don’t take your initial customers for granted in the necessary hunt for new ones.
How clients chose
Your prospective customer may be feeling one or more of these emotions: insecure, threatened, risk-averse, impatient, worried, exposed, ignorant, sceptical, concerned or suspicious. So they need to be able to trust you, which is an act of faith. Chapter 10 lists ways you can address this from the buyer’s perspective:
· Talk about me not you
· Be helpful immediately – treat me like a customer from the start
· Don’t patronise me
· Hold a conversation with me, not a monologue
· Listen to my objections thoughtfully (a redux of “a defect is a treasure”)
So if you see Maister's book lurking unloved on a dusty bookshelf, I recommend grabbing it for a quick read.