When you go for a physical, your doctor takes your vital signs, including temperature, blood pressure, respiration, and pulse. When you go to a client meeting, you should think about the client's vital signs. For example,

  • How much business does that client have to award in the next 12 months?
    • Are there any elephant transactions (really large deals) on the horizon?
  • Who are your competitors at this client?
    • How many competitors do business with this client?
    • Are those competitors as good or better than your firm?
    • Does this client have too many service providers?
    • Where do you rank among all of the firms that cover this client (e.g., are you fifth out of five firms)?

It is important to know where you stand with each of your clients and to know each client's potential future revenue. There are only so many hours in a day, so you have to invest your time in the clients with the highest probability for returns. Also, sooner or later, your management is going to ask you, “Where do we stand with that client?” You want to have an up-to-date view on your coverage strategy for each client and the rationale for that coverage strategy.

Some clients have what is called a rotation philosophy. They award transactions to all of the banks that cover them on a rotating basis. I have made the mistake of taking a co-manager spot in a dinky bond deal one week, only to have the same client announce a $50 billion mergers-and-acquisitions ...

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