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Should you focus your business development energy on retaining/growing current clients or attracting new ones? Wrong question.

So I opined on a recent LinkedIn group discussion. It's interesting that any discussion such as this always draws a demarcation between attracting new clients and retaining/growing current ones.

Why?

The mindset and behaviors to accomplish either goal are identical, just as the mindset and behaviors of dating/courting must remain the same once the person becomes your spouse.

You must first be relevant, or there's no reason for anyone to pay attention to you. Then, you must constantly refresh your relevance. Forever.

Your relevance begins with your client's industry, where you need to become part of that. The industry context establishes the foundation for subsequent company-specific conversations about the industry issues. In turn, the company-specific discussion breaks down further to department- and person-specific challenges and opportunities related to the core industry issue. A percentage of those challenges will have sufficient business impact (the Cost of Doing Nothing) to justify and require various stakeholders to commit to a decision, investment, and action.

When you talk to the industry, you talk to clients and prospects alike, simultaneously. It's that simple. Now all we have to do is get out of our own way and embrace it.

Mike O'Horo

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