Client Account Management

by Rus Slater

Specific and short-term objectives

Next you want to list your specific and short-term objectives.

Specific objectives will be the actual things you need to achieve in order to get to the 12-month objective; inevitably there will be a number of subsidiary goals and these can therefore be allocated to individuals.

  • A specific objective may grow from your 12-month objective: if, for example, your 12-month objective was ‘To consolidate our position as a multi-service provider’ (where you have recently moved from being purely a recruitment agency to providing service across the HR spectrum), then your specific and short-term objectives may include meeting influencers to set out your stall, offering free service to establish your bona fides, carrying out first contracts in new areas or some similar activity.

    Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.

    Peter Drucker (1909–2005)
  • They may also come from the client objective: if the client’s overall objective was ‘To achieve a re-branding of the entire short-haul fleet without disruption of the flight schedules’, your specific and short-term objectives might include assisting the client to produce a viable re-spray plan; providing 100 per cent of the paint and thinners, or gaining the contract for the hire of the spray equipment.
  • They may come from the Relationship Matrix: if you have identified that a key influencer within the client is in No Man’s Land and you want to do something to change this, your specific and short-term objectives might include your MD entertaining said person with a view to raising your profile with them.
  • And they may come from the SWOT analysis: if you identified a Weakness as ‘our low-key reputation in the charity sector’, your specific and short-term objectives may include sponsoring a charity support event, or getting more publicity for what you do in the area.

You can also look at short-term goals in several ways:

  • Those that have to be achieved early in order for others to follow later
  • Those which are higher priority
  • Those which present ‘quick-wins’.

A good way to do this is to brainstorm all the appropriate short-term and specific objectives that the team have thought of during the previous phases... experience shows that they will have come up with quite a few!

You may need to prioritise the various different objectives, especially if it looks as though a large number will fall to one person – probably you! (Remember that this is a great opportunity for you to practice your delegation skills.)

A good way to prioritise as a group is to give each person a number of ‘points’ and ask them to allocate their points as votes, according to their opinion of priorities; so if you give each person ten points, they can give all ten to the one show-stopper objective or they can allocate them as they see fit. (You can inform folk that this is a ‘democratic vote’ or a ‘consultation exercise’ before you start, depending on whether you want to be bound by the group’s opinion or to have the final say.)

Once you have prioritised, you need to ensure that each of these specific and short-term objectives are SMART:


  • How many objectives? – as many as you need.
  • Objectives not action plans at this stage
  • Input coming from all, rather than one person’s priorities (if you have chosen to go the team route)
  • Priority voting – avoid undue influence... get real opinions

Prioritising 12-month and short-term objectives

To do this, it helps if you divide objectives into categories:

  • Quick wins
  • Initiatives/actions to support current strategic objectives
  • Client-driven priorities
  • Dependencies – do this now, so we are able to do that later
  • Resources – what people and materials/equipment are available?
  • ‘HR’ reasons – meaningful work to keep people motivated; developmental work to improve skills and morale.

Suggest discussing all the above and then voting, so that

  • all understand the criteria upon which to decide their voting pattern
  • you get greater buy-in.

Once the short-term objectives are SMART and prioritised, you can allocate them to appropriate people... leave it to them to work out their own ‘plan’ of how to achieve the objective.