One of the easiest business development concepts to deploy is one that offers the most significant — and often the most immediate — payback. It’s called “know your client.”


Research your client in a meaningful way. Do broad business-related research, including looking into the client’s most recent financials, key business drivers, short- and long-terms objectives, marketplace considerations, industry trends, competitors, shareholder filings, recent press, online posting, etc.

Doing this legwork upfront arms you, the professional, with a wealth of knowledge that expands your conversational comfort zone–broadening the range of dialogues in which you are willing to engage and raising your overall level of awareness and professionalism.

Once you are in these broader conversations with your clients, you have by default, raised the odds of “stumbling” across a nugget or two of information that could help you…

  • Add more value to your client relationships
  • Identify incremental opportunities and revenue sources.

“Know your client” is a concept that can have a huge payoff and is fundamental to your success in the marketplace.


An Rx for Professionals graduate told the following story in a post-workshop group coaching session. It was so compelling that I asked her to write it down so I could share it here.

“A few days after the workshop, I went online and found the latest listing of leaders for my client. It contained mostly high-level executives, as well as business-unit and other key functional leaders. I also wanted to capture the names and roles of mid- and upper-level client staff in and out of the functional unit that my team was already serving. So I approached my client sponsor the next day and explained that I was hoping to further educate my team on their business. I asked her if we could get any additional info, including an org chart. My client happily provided the latest org chart for the firm.


Less than a week after I provided my team with this information, one of my team members overheard a conversation between two of our clients that occurred in his status meeting. One of the clients said something to the effect that ‘James is not happy, and he is thinking about tossing them out!’


Based on our new understanding of the client’s organizational structure and research into their business, we concluded with a high degree of confidence that James was the VP in charge of supply chain strategy.

I passed this information on to the partner in charge of the account, who happened to know James personally. The partner called James and, ultimately, our client said, ‘I’m really glad you called. I have a problem and we need to talk.’


In short, James had terminated a relationship with a vendor and our outreach opened the door to our firm taking over the project responsibilities of the recently fired firm. This was a project our firm had bid on previously against four other providers, but one that we had failed to secure. This time, due to the quick turnaround and sensitive nature of the circumstances, we were asked to bid exclusively on the work.”


This was not a lucky break, but rather a $350,000 opportunity created because committed professionals worked to “know the client!”


  • Think about a client you work with where you and your team could benefit from a broader working knowledge of that client’s business.
  • Assign one of the more junior staff on your team to do the business research discussed above (they might find the Gray Matters Rx Research Template helpful).
  • Have your researcher present the information to your service team in your next internal project status meeting.
  • Celebrate this win-win!

The junior team member learns how to do this exercise early in their career, while seeing the benefits of broader research on the clients s/he serves.

Your entire team gets exposed to vital, business-related information that will lift the entire group’s knowledge about the client and broaden team member’s comfort zone for interaction.