You've probably heard it said that it's easier and less expensive to keep a client than gain a new one. In light of the current economy, this may be more accurate now than ever.
Many studies provide specific evidence to back up this claim, but common sense suggests that keeping current clients happy offers many advantages over finding new ones. Developing client relationships is the foundation to keeping clients in any business, and you can maximize these connections in many ways.
Here are some ideas:
- Ask rapport building, non-business questions
- Offer value from the start of the relationship
- Take advantage of social events with your clients
- Use online social networking to build a sense of community
- Refer business when appropriate
Penny for your thoughts
Meeting someone for the first time in person or even on the phone can be tense. People are accustomed to bland sales calls, and with an increasing concern over expenditures are less likely to entertain offers if the seller does not show concern about the individual.
Use rapport building questions to break the ice and learn about people. It may take a couple of minutes but will start the conversation on a positive note. I ask others about the areas they are from, because I talk to people all over the country.
Questions should get the ball rolling – not to go deep. For example, ask about the weather or local sports teams while searching for similarities. While this may seem intuitive, a surprising number of sales calls neglect this personal touch.
You deserve this
Revealing value from the start is the only way to build an effective sales relationship. Ask your clients what concerns keep them up at night and what opportunities they are considering. Offer value by sharing insights gained from working with firms that have similar concerns or by putting them in touch with others that can shed light. I also provide articles and information we have gathered over the years to help firms save research time. Providing value from the start is the most sure-fire way to build credibility with clients.
Wanna get out of the office?
Social occasions offer unique opportunities to strengthen client relationship, because you get to know your clients in their “natural” environments. Try to learn as much as much as possible about people: their kids, family, favorite activities, etc. You may suggest dinner after a meeting or a quick drink at the local hot, but don’t focus only on business. Be genuinely interested in people, and the sales will follow.
See you online!
Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have become increasingly popular ways to connect with business associates. Consider posting a page on one of these sites for your firm and connecting through it to as many clients as possible. Doing so will offer you yet another way to market your business and build a sense of community among your clients.
Can you send something my way?
Whenever possible, refer business to your clients. For me, it's usually a firm to firm referral. This tells clients that they are important enough to send potential business. The firm that I refer is also happy, because it now has a possible solution. Business referral is a win-win situation for everyone!
Building client relationships can be accomplished in countless ways. The main idea is to understand the value the relationship represents and to knowingly work at building relationships with all of your clients. Finding ways to accomplish this will go a long way in the success of your business.