All businesses, no matter the size or industry, have clients. Client relationships can make or break your business. This is especially true now as we have fewer natural face-to-face interactions. So, we must rely on more deliberate efforts to keep our clients close and comfortable.
Here are some tips that work for me.
- Know your clients. Work hard to understand their business, what matters to them, and even their families, because this is what drives everything they do. No matter what service you provide, communicate to your client they matter, their business matters, and YOU care.
- Live, love, and laugh. Clients are attracted to happy people. This is where your company culture can give you a boost. The Miller Group has a strong, positive culture, and it’s a great place to work. Our clients are attracted to us, in part, because of the way that manifests in our staff.
- Be engaged. This should go without saying, but it is important to be fully present when you are with clients – even virtually. Make eye contact, ask questions, listen closely, and give them 100% of your attention. This is critical to building rapport and, thereby, trust.
- Stay nimble. Understand that client relationships will change, so you may have to pivot and adjust. This requires flexibility. You will find when a situation arises and it feels uncomfortable, it is easier to handle if you are ‘light on your feet.’ It will be a win-win.
- Keep telling your story. Don’t assume your clients or potential clients know everything you do or why you do it. Tell them. Also, explain you are looking for long-term client relationships. Let them know the value you can provide and hold true to it.
- Learn from your mistakes. Always be willing to evaluate your performance by letting your client evaluate you. If there is a mistake, own it. Be transparent with your client, learn from experience, and do better going forward.
- Don’t be a stranger. It’s important to stay in touch. This is one reason why contacting clients at annual review time is important. Ask how often they would like you to touch base. Be sure to make at least one of those reach-outs a thank-you. Thank them for their business and ask for an opportunity to do more. Also, keep tabs on business activity and external factors that affect your client. Check-in when appropriate. Go the extra mile, and your client is sure to notice.
- Give first. Find a way to give your client something of value that matters to them. It may be a gift to their favorite charity, an introduction to a client of yours who would be a great connection for their company or a quick email with an article about their company or information that would help their HR department.
- It is a small world. I connect businesses and colleagues to others when I feel they may want to know or connect with each other. I do this almost like a ‘gift’ to those who are clients or prospects. Think back to tip No. 8. Creating connections could be a way of giving your client something of value.
I enjoy creating relationships, and I hope these tips have inspired you to renew your energy around relationship building. If you’d like to talk more, send me a message.
By Sarah Askren, PRM Business Development Manager, The Miller Group
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