How to Build Client Relationships That Last
There's no reason to build client relationships if they aren't going to last.
Growing your client base is only possible when you're constantly meeting new people and retaining those that are already in your network. And it's not uncommon for the biggest sales and most rewarding work you do to come from relationships you've had for a while.
While a good CRM software can help, there are things you can do on a regular basis to boost your client relationships too.
Let's take a look at some tips for how to build client relationships that last.
Above all, trust is the thing you want your clients to have in you. When people trust the work you do, and you're honest with them, they stick around. Lying or even seeming untrustworthy can be a death sentence.
Building trust takes time and effort. Being a good communicator, answering questions promptly, and being honest when you don't know something are all keys. Clients want to see that their needs are being met and expectations are shared between both parties about how the relationship should go.
Many people think a white lie now and again won't hurt. But the problem with lying is it can be hard to stop. You also never know when a small lie will become a big one, and you're stuck — so it's best to err on the side of caution.
Customers look for trust in their buying decisions, too. Studies show that people tend to trust family-run businesses more. There's an inherent assumption about families that things are harmonious and everyone is working together. Also, relationships are at the forefront of the work they do.
It's not hard to get stuck in the modern rat race of social media and instant gratification. Shortcuts and chasing the immediate reward is easier than ever before. And when we do this, our actions and our character often fall short of our best.
One simple tool to grow a client base is to flip this sort of thinking on its head. Instead of thinking short-term, think about (and take action on) the long road ahead.
Think about the benefits of your actions five years from now. Think about what it would be like to do the harder thing that will pay off later. Plan how you'll plant seeds with new clients and continue to be there for existing ones.
Thinking long-term helps you stay committed to the path and not give in to instant gratification. Clients will be more likely to do business with you because you're stable. You don't seem like you're hunting for the next best thing.
Lean on Relationships When Times Get Hard
It's also easy to forget the person on the other end of a business. Whether you want to build client relationships with big CEOs or just foster growth with a handful of smaller businesses, the same logic applies. Put people first before the money isn't just a strategy to grow customer loyalty; it's the right thing to do.
This goes both ways. Of course, you need to maintain professionalism and boundaries when you are with clients. But you can still get to know them and tell them about yourself, too. This goes back to fostering trust and helps people see the person behind the numbers.
When times get hard, double down on this strategy. We all know what it's like to be hurting. You might be surprised at the response you get when you treat people well.
Save Your Asks
Client relationships aren't about what another person can do for you. That applies to potential revenue, referrals, and other business rewards. And if you ask for things too quickly or too often, your client might think you're just trying to use them.
Think about asking your client for something—whatever it is—like a game of poker. Each time you ask, you put all your chips into the table. The amount of chips you have depends on how many things you've done for them in the past.
(While this analogy works loosely, client relationships are not a game of keeping score, either.)
If they say yes, great! You won your chips back. But if they hesitate or they seem spooked by your request, you pretty much lost the clout you'd built up.
All this to say, save your asks for when you need them. The likelihood of getting a yes will only increase, and your relationships will be more positive as a result.
Don't Take Clients for Granted
What's the easiest way to ruin a relationship? There are many, but taking people for granted is about as surefire as it gets. This is true in business and personal relationships as well.
It's a true psychological need: people want to feel valued. All of us appreciate the feeling of being noticed and seen whether we realize it or not. Neglecting your relationships is the fastest way to destroy client relationships you've built up.
On a day-to-day level, this might look like a simple phone call or email. Maybe you ask a client, if it's appropriate, to get lunch or grab a coffee. Forget business talk for a bit and catch up. Give it a personal touch.
You might be surprised how a simple gesture can affect your bottom line. Even though that shouldn't your primary objective in making a person feel valued, it doesn't hurt.
How To Build Client Relationships
There is no perfect formula that explains how to get return customers and build client relationships. However, starting with the person behind the business or number is the best place to start.
Make people feel valued, be respectful, and treat people the way you want to be treated. Show them you're a person, too. And savor the positive relationships you have with those in your network already.
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