Recently, KPMG announced that they were no longer selling consulting services to the FTSE 350 clients that they already audited. A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with a client who wanted to diversify into a completely different business. This morning I had a meeting with someone who was running two separate businesses on which there was potentially some cross-over. What have these three things got in common?
The answer is clarity of message.
When you approach a potential new client just what is it that you are selling? In KPMG's case and those of other similar firms there has always been an underlying fear of conflict of interest. That is not to say the two services are incompatable but when a service involves independence of thought how can you ensure that one service does not blur the independent view of the other.
In the case of diversification are you trying to sell a new service or product to an existing client or to a new client. In the case of the former the advantage is having a track record that the client is familiar with and therefore may be more open to the new product or service. In the case of the latter you have no track record so what are you trying to sell me? The new service/product? The existing service or product? Which is it?
Likewise in the case of the two seperate businesses, are you trying to sell for both or for one? My experience is that for a client to buy there has to be one clear message for that client. It may be OK to sell the service or product of the other business later but the likelihood at the beginning is that they will buy one or none. If your message is not clear the answer is likely to be none. I never say never because there will always be someone out there who can and will probably prove me wrong. However, if you concentrate on what your potential client or customer needs most then you will improve the odds on getting them to buy now with the potential to add on something else later.