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Client relationship scenarios described by senior practitioners in professional service firms

We are on a panel, but there is no work coming our way...

Q “We are on a panel for a long-standing client but workflow has fallen away in the last 2-3 years. We have done all the right things in term of providing a range of value added services, even to the extent of recently providing 8 seminars to their outside office around the UK at no cost to them. They have suggested that all the panel firms are in the same boat but I suspect one or two are being favoured ahead of us and the others. The client is a significant player in their market and the firm cannot afford to let the relationship atrophy and possibly come to an end at the next panel review.”

A If there really is a dearth of work, there may not be much you can do other than to keep on demonstrating your investment in the client through the value added provision. But it does seem that you need more intelligence on the available work and where it might be going. Who in the organization could help advise you of the actual circumstances?

If others are being favoured, you may need to be quite direct and ask your client what it is that the other firms do to win the work and what you need to do to get into a similar position ie instead of having a moan about it, take the direct and positive route and ask for the client’s guidance as to what you have to do to match and better your competitors in terms of approach, service and price to win work. For example, it may transpire that the provision of a secondee may be the key to unlocking further work and that the competitors are in there before you.

The falling away of work in these circumstances usually derives from a failure to keep up an adequate level of communication and contact with the client. The client quite reasonably forms the view that you don’t care enough and gives the work to those who demonstrate that they do. Re-create the previously good levels of communications and, this time, maintain them. Possibly shake up the client relationship team and re-assign individuals to different roles ie freshen up the whole approach to the client.

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