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Rule of Thumb: when to ask for more business

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In the current economic climate, securing repeat business from existing clients is an essential strategy. If practices wish to maintain their turnover they need to know how and when to ask a client for more work.

Architects, like many creative-industry professionals, can be rather backwards in coming forwards. Their reticence perhaps stems from the perception of selling as being a bit vulgar. This is why additional pitches should be based on a genuine belief that you can help your clients. During initial consultations, clients tend to mention lots of things which, if you are listening properly, could form the basis for a future project.

Clients are always impressed when confronted with a well-considered initiative. They want to work with professionals who help them deliver what they need, not ones who ask them what they want. This forms part of the HEAT (Hit ’Em with Another Thought) strategy.

The best time to deploy the HEAT method is at the beginning or middle of an existing project, when there is a sense of anticipation and excitement. At this early stage, the client will be in the habit of making decisions, whereas at the end – when inevitably something has gone wrong – the client is less receptive to new ideas and the crucial momentum has disappeared.

David Kean is co-founder of business consultancy Caffeine and co-author of How to Win Friends and Influence Profits (Marshall Cavendish, 2008)

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