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Building Long Lasting Client Relationships

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Executive Summary.

  1. Why this is important.
  2. Ten thoughts on how to succeed in doing so.

pic_andrewAs outlined in the previous two issues, which focused on the concept of The Client as a Market Space, developing and maintaining long lasting client relationships is an important element to success in this process.

To assist you, here are ten thoughts to building long lasting, mutually profitable client relationships.

Treat your clients like friends you want to keep, not as one-night stands.

The sales forces with the highest potential for success are those that position themselves as advocates for the companies they serve. They are not merely peddlers; they are advisers, boosters, and comrades in arms who join clients in the trenches.

All sales are not equal.

Sometimes, landing a big, seemingly lucrative contract may generate an immediate windfall, but it also can increase costs if seller/buyer expectations and values are not aligned. There are plenty of deals companies wish they had never won as they have lost millions of dollars on them.

rassa_long-lasting-client-relationshipsStop guessing.

When it comes to relationship marketing, don’t assume you can read your client’s mind or rely on your gut instinct. Schedule regular meetings with interested clients and mutually explore the playing field through their eyes. Moreover, ask tough questions about the direction they want to go in. Their epiphany will become your own.

Exercise patience.

Before proposing a solution, it’s vital to ask the client to describe their perceived problems and needs, and why they have enlisted you to address them.

Keep an ear to the ground.

Listening to clients yields more business opportunities. Business management strategist Stephen R. Covey says, “This builds a synergistic partnership for future business, taking sales to a higher level — in both high-integrity, trustworthy, win-win relationships and increased business opportunities and revenue.”

Abandon cold calling for “warm calling.”

No matter how smooth the pitch, cold calls are time-consuming, off-putting, and ineffective. Focus on building a network in the marketplace that convinces clients to call you.

Slow down to appreciate the value of “yellow light” moments.

When we see a yellow light at a traffic intersection, the tendency is to speed up. In business, if a client exercises caution about embarking down a certain path, slow down and consider their fears of being blindsided.

Inquire about the competition.

Don’t believe that it makes you appear weaker or insecure. If you are asked to submit a bid for a project, it doesn’t hurt to politely ask what other firms have been solicited for the work. That gives you a chance to gauge the competition, and it provides insight into the client’s thought processes.

Develop a schedule for meeting with clients.

Realize that your job is not only to inform, educate, or entertain clients, but also to help them reach a decision. Meeting plans will shorten sales cycles, help you advocate for better solutions, and enable clients to make confident decisions that will reflect well on you.

Look forward, not backward.

It’s a new world out there. Give your clients cause to eagerly await your arrival, not a reason to hide.

 

Andrew Clare is Managing Partner of reLiance a business to business relationship marketing practice. I focus on improving client profitability through developing, implementing and measuring sustainable, collaborative business to business relationships.

Cell: +27 83 326 2451, E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Web: www.rassa.co.za, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/andrewclare

 

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