If your company depends on customers or clients, the key to being successful is making sure that you can grow and maintain your client base. This isn’t something that will happen on its own, it takes an investment of time and effort on your part.
The best business comes from repeat customers; they trust you and your brand, and over time, what started as a small account can become your big money-maker. They may even be so thrilled with the service they receive that they recommend you to others – who would say no to free marketing?!
To gain new clients, you need a solid reputation and to build a good relationship from the word go; they need to want to do business with your company, and you are the face of that company. It’s essential to come across as trustworthy, reliable and likeable.
All in all, building client relationships and maintaining them will boost the profitability, reputability and reach of your company which means more success and bigger bonuses for you. Additionally, the service you provide and the relationships you have with your clients or customers could be what sets you apart from the competition.
Nurturing business relationships is an art-form in itself, but with a little charm and a lot of know-how, you can keep clients coming back to you. Here are our top tips:
1. Be knowledgeable
Now, we’re not saying you need to know who the General Manager of their company was in 1975 but, in your quest to become their ‘go-to’, something that will really help you on your way is knowing your clients’ businesses and industries well.
Repeat clients will appreciate you understanding their needs and preferences, and the fact that you are so familiar with the business is a great way to foster rapport. Knowing your clients helps you to tailor the service you provide them, and that is something that can set you apart from any rivals.
When it comes to gaining new clients, they need to know that you’re the right person or business for them: this is where your knowledge of their industry will come into play. If the client can see that you are an authority in their specific area, they’re more likely to trust you to get the job done and know that you’ll do it well.
Doing your research, getting to know your clients and keeping up to date with what’s going on in the industry won’t take too much time out of your day, but could do wonders for your client-base.
2. Don’t force it
Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know! The chances are, your clients deal with the pushy type of salesperson day in day out. You don’t want to be just another faceless representative trying to sell them something.
Patience really is a virtue when it comes to building client relationships; trust and rapport can sometimes take a little while to forge. You don’t want to overwhelm a potential client or scare them off with an overly-aggressive sales pitch or by trying to be too ‘pally’ too quickly.
Be genuine and take the time to get to know your clients personally, rapport needs to come first, then making the sale will follow.
3. Keep them in the loop
Communication, communication, communication. (Do you get the subtle hint we’re trying to make?)
No one wants to be left hanging around or kept in the dark. Maintaining contact with your clients is one of the most important things you can do to keep them on-side. One thing to bear in mind is that anyone can just send an email; to keep things personal make sure that you drop your clients a call every now and then and arrange to meet them in person to discuss things.
Keep them informed every step of the way if you’re working on something for them. Even if there hasn’t been any progress since you last spoke to them, tell them that to let them know you’re still hard at work for them. If a client contacts you, respond promptly and provide as much information as you can.
Even once everything is done and dusted, follow up with them to make sure that they’re happy with what you’ve done for them – don’t wait for them to contact you if anything is wrong.
4. Go the extra mile
Again, building successful client relationships comes down to setting yourself apart from the competition but also making your customers feel satisfied and appreciated.
As your client base grows, you can’t let your standards slip; treat every single client like they are the most important one and ensure that they feel like they’re not just a number. Do anything you can, within reason, to ensure that they are as happy as possible. Show them that you are adaptable, flexible to their needs and that you care about their business.
Personal touches can go a long way; share your knowledge with them, offer advice, send them an email on their birthday, ask about their holiday to Palma. These are all things that will make the relationship feel mutually beneficial, so your clients feel like they’re getting something out of it, too.
5. Provide a quality service
Give your best to everything you do for a client. The quality of your service is something that should remain consistently good throughout all interactions with each of your clients.
If you’re selling them a product, make sure it’s in tip-top condition. If you’re completing a project for them, make sure it’s finished to the highest possible standard and in line with their requirements. Cross all the Ts and dot all the Is – don’t allow for your client to be left dissatisfied with the service they have received.
Keep any commitments you make with your clients. If you have set a deadline, do everything you can to meet it, but be realistic and honest with your clients. Don’t try to impress or be too ambitious with an unrealistic deadline or target, otherwise your reputation could end up in tatters.
Actively seek feedback on how your service could be improved, and take it on board. Next time you liaise with your clients, try to show them that you’ve implemented the suggestions they put forward.
In summary, all of your clients need to feel like number one; loyal, long-standing customers are just as important as new ones. Really take the time to build and maintain your client relationships and you’ll soon reap the benefits.
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