“I need fewer clients!”
“Dad! You’re always looking at your phone!” Frank’s 8-year-old girl was sick of it.
Dad was never there, even when he was there. He was supposed to be watching little Carolina’s hockey, but he missed the goal she scored. He felt terrible, but what could he do?
When you run a business, you’re always online, or in your virtual office (also known as the phone). That’s how Frank saw it.
And Frank was swamped with messages on LinkedIn, promising an endless stream of leads.
When he got a call from one of his new connections, Jacquie, offering more leads, he fired back:
I don’t need more leads! I need fewer clients!
Not the exact response you’d expect when you promise someone you’ll 10X their business, is it?
Fewer clients? Did you read that right, Jacquie?
But why would anyone in their right mind want fewer clients?
“Oh, I get it!”, she thought. “Frank must be in the sunset cruise, winding down on the way to retirement.”
Nope. Frank was clearly very busy, and not looking to retire any time soon.
“Fewer clients? Why on earth?”
It was really quite simple: “fewer clients, but better ones”, answered Frank, “so I can focus on other projects.”
How many clients do you need?
In my business coaching, I often find people are stumped by two questions:
“Who do you do your best work with?”
and “How many clients do you need?”
People who have laser-sharp focus when it comes to technical work, get extremely vague about who they would like to work with.
“I do business process improvement”, they tell me. “Great!”, I respond. And then I ask: “Is there any business in the world that couldn’t do with improving their processes?”
No. None whatsoever. I then get told some variation of “I can work with any business across any industry (and government, too. And did I mention that I can work with non-profits?”
“Any” is not a market.
And when it comes to the “how many clients?” question, if I hear: “as many as possible”, then I wonder whether they have thought through their business model at all.
It can take as much work selling to a $1000 client, as it does to a $20,000 client.
Same with onboarding those clients. It sounds like you don’t need as many clients as you need, but you need to know who they are that you do your best work with.
Selling is an investment
I coach technical consultants who need to learn “business” language, so they can make sales. As these consultants are usually not too experienced or confident with the sales part of the business, selling typically takes them a little longer.
Selling is an investment in your business. It’s an investment of money, of time (especially) and an emotional investment, too. If you’re business is underwhelmed because of not enough clients, it could be that you’re not having the right sales conversations with the right people.
Too many clients is a Thing
And if you’re overwhelmed with too many clients (yes, that really is a Thing), then it’s time to work out just where you want your business to be.
Working through your business model, and working out who your clients are, both help you buy back precious time in your business.
Or, as Frank at his little girl’s hockey game, sometimes you just need fewer clients.
I’m Anthony English, and my mission is to help owners of technical companies to land better clients. I’ve come from the IT world and know how to translate technical information for non-technical audiences (your buyers!).
I’m based in Sydney, Australia, and offer this coaching online (we have the technology!) or in person.
If you’re serious about winning more business, here’s what you can do: get my short email course on how.
- Lesson 1: Selling without selling
- Lesson 2: Swap seats with your buyer
- Lesson 3: Be the detective, not the superhero
- Lesson 4: Focus on outcomes (not solutions)
- Lesson 5: Move your buyer from spectator to player