It’s January, the time of forward planning and those wonderful resolutions. For many that means diets and fitness regimes. It’s that time of the year where open spaces are buzzing with full boot-camps early in the morning, and gyms are full to bursting point, upsetting the year-round, dedicated, gym bunnies.

Personally I’ve resolved to do 10 minutes of yoga, 3 times a week so I can continue my football (soccer) career with minimal pain! With all of these things in-mind the intent is great.  It starts of really well, but it soon fades away and normal life resumes. This is also what happens with many business strategies, and in particular, client plans.

Why do my client plans fail?

We’ve all been in the rooms and with colleagues early in the year when we have that chance to make our BD or client-focused plans for the year ahead. It’s a time where many have that rare and most valuable of commodities “time” to actually sit down, talk and plan. It’s great to have time, but perhaps this false period before the pressures of the business year kick-in allows you to over-plan or even be too ambitious.

There are lots of plans and processes out there which allow you to map and chart a relationship, record news on your clients and track future projects. Some are very complex, others less so. It’s great to have a process BUT just following a process won’t make you successful or even change the results from previous years. You can get in a car, turn the ignition on, put it into drive and hit the accelerator, an effective process but if you’re driving down a one-way street, you’ll just drive into a wall. Painful and unproductive.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.

So what can you do? Two simple steps.

Firstly, keep your plans simple. Think about the 3 key relationships that will make a difference to you and your business in the year ahead, and think about how you can build trusted relationships with those people.

Secondly, change how you plan your client meetings. Forget about printing your client’s annual plan and trying to know all about their business. Yes, be aware but don’t try to be an expert, they know about their business, better than you ever will. It is, however, important that you take an interest in them as people and also in their business and overall objectives. Plan what questions you’d like to ask them, and think about what value you can give them in any meeting you have with them. The value should tie in to their objectives and what they want to achieve, not what services or product you offer. Ask informative questions to find out about their business but also ones which help them think about their plans. In short, plan questions rather than just read their literature.

Change the way you plan for your meetings and you’ll soon be relationship fit in the year ahead.

Want some help planning for your next meeting? Download our free sales meeting planner template.