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02 Feb, 2017

An In-depth Look at Strategic Client Management with Wally Hise

Abby Harrington

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Read time: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Wally Hise, VP of Business Development at HDR, knows strategic client management. He has worked on all sides of the equation—as a client, and as a business developer for small and large firms, some who got it right and some who didn’t. If you weren’t able to attend last month’s Strategic Client Management educational program, here’s the low down on key takeaways.


Client management needs to have some thought put in to it before it can be successfully implemented. Items to consider before jumping in include:

  • What works best for my firm and our culture?
  • What clients should we focus on? Remember, not all warrant a strategic plan.
  • Who’s part of the management team? If it falls to one client contact, it will not work.
  • It’s not about THE plan, it’s about PLANNING. The strategy can and will change over time.
  • To be successful, you should focus on goals and strategies, not specific contracts and projects, and create a long-term plan (2-3 years) instead of short-term one (6-12 months).
  • Who will own the account? Choosing a client manager is important because they are the connector, the champion of the strategic plan, and the one accountable for staying committed to building the strategic plan. Define the team and ask them to commit to an in-depth planning session. If someone doesn’t have time to attend planning sessions, take them off the team.

So now what? It’s time for the next step in strategic client management—the planning process.

  1. Look back at your history with the client (their perspective, how they act, who they like).
  2. Look forward: what do you know about the client? Gain insight into their markets and their competitors. Don’t just google it; conduct interviews with the client so you can base a plan on facts, not assumptions.
  3. Define the key relationships—who do we need to know?
  4. Define the future with goals and a final strategy after the planning session

Wally focuses on five key strategic areas to include in your final strategy. You can read about them in his article here. In closing, below are some lessons learned from Wally’s years of experience:

  • Decide if you will develop a plan in-house, or buy a strategic client management plan from a consultant. Developing a plan costs less and is highly customized to your firm, but it will take a long time. Buying a solution is costly, but fast; it’s not completely customized to your needs, but it will use proven methodologies.
  • Right-size the team—pre-planning builds in commitment. Account owners matter!
  • Define the outcome of the planning session—a spreadsheet of goals? A formal business plan? Show what it should look like before you begin the session. Be flexible—deviations are OK.
  • Client selection is really important, but so is getting the right team, the right strategy, and looking to the future (isn’t that the point?). Be honest with yourself— it isn’t always “all good” so explain what’s really behind each client relationship.

To see our event recap and photos from the Strategic Client Management program, click here.

Abby Harrington
Marketing Associate
HITT Contracting