By Paula Aaron Rose and Douglas Burson, Sphere Marketer & Analytics
Is your business a “Mile Wide” or a “Mile Deep?”
There is a saying among demographers – the people who study people – and interpret statistically a “model” that can be applied to you, us, we – large groups, small groups, patterns, predictable purchase behaviors…
“But we cannot measure individual relationships.”
It’s common for small business owners and independent consultants to focus their resources on gaining new business. However, new business doesn’t always have to mean new clients. Building strong relationships with clients sets you up for repeat business.
Here are six ideas that may help you build lasting, “mile-deep” relationships with your clients – a mile deep!
Focus on Exceptional Communication
Make timely and efficient communication a priority.
In addition to timely and thorough communication, it’s also important to make your clients feel comfortable being open and honest with you, and that their ideas and concerns will be taken seriously.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
As stressed out or overwhelmed as you may feel, it’s important to show a positive face to your clients. Exude the energy and confidence that you want your clients to feel about your work. Enthusiasm and zeal are attractive personality traits people enjoy being around!
Acknowledge Your Client as an Individual
While your relationship with your client is of a professional nature, acknowledging that you see them as a person – and more than a paycheck – can go a long way. The extent to which this personal connection is appropriate will vary depending on your industry, client type, and the individual client’s personality.
If you know your client is a parent, you may simply ask how their children are doing. If you have a closer relationship with your client, something more personal such as emailing them a news article about their favorite musician might be appropriate and appreciated.
Share Knowledge and “Bend The Client Curve”
If your client doesn’t understand your area of expertise, they may feel ignorant about the intricacies of the process and therefore disconnected from the development of the project. This is your opportunity to share information that will help the client understand what you do, which will build trust and confidence in the process.
Explaining to the client what you did, why you did it, and how you made your decisions will help them feel knowledgeable and in-the-loop.
To build a strong and lasting relationship with your clients, they must be able to trust and rely on you as an expert. That’s why it’s crucial you maintain a policy of openness when it comes to your professional opinions and point of view regarding the best interests of the project.
It can be tempting to want to appear agreeable and avoid uncomfortable confrontation by telling the client what you think they want to hear or withholding your true opinion about their project. By confidently expressing your honest opinions, clients will respect your initiative and desire for excellence.
One of the best ways to help build a “mile-deep” relationship with clients is to develop a reputation as “consultant” who delivers exceptional results. Make sure that you don’t oversell yourself and promise unrealistic results. By setting reasonable expectations, you give yourself the opportunity to completely impress the client with the final project and position yourself as someone they would like to continue to work with.
Consider your client and determine what would be valuable to them. It could be as simple as delivering the project in an aesthetically pleasing format, hand-delivering the materials and giving an in-depth walkthrough or demonstration, or including a small value-adding feature that enhances the finished results.
For loyal clients, a token of appreciation and thanks after key business milestones or around the holidays can be an unexpected pleasure that strengthens your professional relationship. The key is to find the opportunity to go above and beyond in a manner your clients will appreciate.
Credit: MBO Partners and the University of Missouri (Photo)
For Client Relationship Management Opportunities Please Contact:
Sphere Marketer & Analytics, 816.349.5988 Kansas City – Atlanta – Chicago
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