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November 2, 2021

Take Good Care of Your Small Clients, Too!

I have been saying for years that, “All clients matter… but big clients matter more.” And I still believe that. Strongly, in fact. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your small clients or small sales prospects.

For one thing, small clients can grow into big ones. And if you take good care of them when they’re small… they’ll remember you when they’re big.

The other consideration is economics. The Perato Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule) says that 80% of your revenue comes from just 20% of your clients (the big ones). The flip side is also true… that 80% of your clients (the small ones) account for 20% of your revenue. And 20% is nothing to sneeze at.

To help you take care of small clients, I’d encourage you to consider creating the role of Small Accounts Manager (that would be the function, not the title)… someone to both sell to and manage the relationships with these smaller companies. And whether this person is a seller-doer or a full-time sales rep, their impact can be significant:

  • They would handle all incoming sales inquiries. They would perform ‘triage’… learning about the company and the potential project to determine what happens next – passing the big ones on to your senior team or keeping the small ones for themselves. Their management of these incoming sales leads also means that senior staff doesn’t get distracted and can stay focused on their key accounts.
  • This person is responsible for building relationships with contacts at these small clients and prospects. And when those contacts move on to other companies – and you know they will – they just might take you with them.
  • Working with these small clients becomes a great training ground… not just for sales, but also for research (for seller-doers). And if they’re gonna screw-up… better to do it with a small client than a large one.
  • Once they get a little experience in this role under their belt… think of this position as your ‘bullpen.’ Should one of your senior ‘players’ leave your firm, you now have a trained and experienced ‘reliever’ ready to fill those shoes immediately (sorry for the ‘baseball’ references… but it’s that time of year!).
  • Speaking of training, don’t just throw this person to the wolves… train them, train them and train them some more. On both research and sales. That comprehensive training not only helps you to develop better employees, it’s a key element in attracting new, young talent to your firm.
  • Lastly – and not that this should be the deciding factor – but the employees who work with smaller clients are not as highly-compensated as senior level folks who take care of your key accounts. This is an entry-level or just-above-entry-level position.

Bottom line: Small clients know that they’re small clients. They know that they will not be as valuable to you as P&G or Coke. But they still need your services… and want (and deserve) good service. And delivering that good service to them – during the sales process and as a client – will help to secure their business and differentiate your firm from all the others, who are likely not doing very much to take care of these smaller companies.


Looking for even more ways to grow revenue in 2022? This coming January, we will be presenting the 4th Cohort of the Seller-Doer Workshop™. It’s an online event developed specifically for researchers, project managers and business owners who have the added responsibility of growing revenue… but don’t have the knowledge, skills or tools necessary to be successful at it. Learn more at

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