A blog by Joel Barolsky of Barolsky Advisors

10 ways to describe the Client Relationship Partner (CRP) role

In Articles, Commentary on 29 August 2018 at 11:41 am

Client Relationship Partners or CRPs are responsible for the overall success of the firm’s long-term relationship with each key client. Listed below are 10 different ways to describe the CRP role each with its own nuance and emphasis. These descriptions are useful in creating clarity in expectations, CRP selection, capability development and accountability.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 11.05.58 am

Source: strikingly.com

#1 The firm luminary and client advocate

The CRP faces outward and represents the firm to the client. At the same time, they face inward to ensure the voice of the client is heard and client’s interest are appropriately served. Read David Maister’s famous post to dive deeper into this job description.

#2 The pedestal seller (aka the Tinder Tactician)

The CRP networks actively within the firm and the client organisation, and brokers new relationships. They put colleagues and client contacts on a pedestal and talk them up wherever they can. They start their day by thinking about who they can introduce for mutual benefit.

#3 The strategic account leader

The CRP has the primary role of leading the team of practitioners and functional specialists servicing the client. As with any leadership role, their job is to set direction, communicate the strategy, inspire, motivate, cajole and align the various constituencies to execute this strategy. They span across formal organisation boundaries and facilitate collaboration in the core client team and with everyone in the broader client community. This job is made especially difficult in professional service firms because they usually have signifcant responsibilities without formal authority. They typically would have an internal network map looking like Partner 2 from Heidi Gardner’s recent research:

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 10.22.06 am

#4 The planner

The CRP documents a clear set of activities that will help build a successful firm-client relationship over the short-, medium- and long-term. Their plan may look something like this:

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 10.11.05 am

#5 The front-door

The CRP is the client’s first point-of-contact and the key person to address any service failures or concerns. They help redirect work to the most appropriate person within the firm that can service their need. They help make the client’s experience frictionless and engaging. This CRP role is a little more passive than the other models described, but it may suit a ‘care and maintain’ relationship that has little profit growth potential.

#6 The rainmaker

The CRP’s job is to maximise revenue and profit from the account. Full stop.

#7 The co-creator

The CRP facilitates the process of aligning the client’s strategic needs with the firm’s capabilities. They explore in some depth the client’s critical problems and opportunities and help bring together integrated bespoke solutions often involving multi parties, technologies and vendors. The CRP’s role would be to understand deeply the key elements that create value for the client. Page 1 of their client plan would be Bain’s 40 elements model applied to their key client:

Insurance-elements-infographic

#8 The intrapreneur

Most relationships need ongoing renewal and inspiration in terms of product, process, people and pricing. The CRP role is to generate new ideas that add value and help get the best ones implemented.

#9 The elder

The CRP role is that of senior door opener, shmoozer, steward and repository of institutional memory. The role is less hand-on in terms of day-to-day account management but they do what’s necessary to influence key decision-makers and help win major new projects.

#10 The relationship choreographer (MY PREFERENCE)

The CRP orchestrates a set multi-lateral connections, value exchanges and mutually beneficial projects. They work internal and externally, strategically and tactically, short-term and long-term. The CRP brings the best of the firm to the client; and the whole of the client to the firm. Their job to drive the pink process to win more blue:

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 10.14.25 am

  1. Joel! How are you?

    I live in Bonn, Germany, now and am happily ensconced in a Brussels job lobbying the EU commission on gas issues.

    Love your articles, still.

    Barbara Jinks 0428 783 327

    >

  2. This is a very useful description of the CRP role. Thank for that! I would like to stress that if the role is to succeed it will be neccesary to build within the firms an adequate set of working processes to allow the CRP’s perform their role. These people will need to make quick decisions, to have room enough to decide without having to check every step they take. They will propose, hopefully, many new approaches to problems that will challenge the old ways of doping things. All these things require an agile “process infrastructure ” that has to be properly implemented if the CRP role is to succeed. This is not an easy task for the lawyer’s firms but certainly, I believe, this is the right way to deal with clients today.

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