Create a target list of clients

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Periodically I speak with consultants who are looking for advice on business development.

One of the questions I ask is whether the consultant has created a target list of clients – not just in their brain but on paper or in a spreadsheet.

Usually the answer is no.

One of the reasons we avoid doing this, I think, is that when we get explicit on which specific clients we’d like to serve, we must be willing to make choices and exclude every other company. (And we might miss an opportunity!!)

But the Universe favors focus, and a sort of magic happens when we find clarity on what problems we want to solve and for whom we want to solve them.

Once you have a target list, you can show it to people.

And you can ask a question that I learned from a career coach, Ellis Chase, fifteen years ago.

NOT: “Do you know someone at one of these companies.”

The question to ask instead is: “What do you think of this list?”

That question opens possibilities:

Perhaps the person will suggest other companies you should add (now that they know the type of client you’re interested in.)
Or tell you that one company on your list is actually a terrible choice.
Or offer to make an intro.

A list shows you’ve done your homework.
A list tells you who you need to call.
A list is a sign that you’ve turned pro.