Every day old relationships
Every day new relationships
How can you build
your business relationships - so they grow and mature and evolve upwards
- and not "out"? That is, how can you keep the clients you have
- and not have them walk out the door?
It has taken me a
couple of decades to develop this list of things "to do". Things
that help me stick with a client. That, when I remember and use each of
these concepts, keep our partnership of working together, working.
Here they are ...
13 Platinum Ideas on Working With Your Clients.
1. Listen to your
Your client passes
on information - and shares knowledge only they have. Listen and learn
Listening is tough.
As most of us have never learned how. Because we have not been taught.
Schools teach us to read and write and fail to teach us to listen.
Yet listening - for
understanding - could be the most important element in any business relationship.
It is not about what you have to say, or what you think, or you want,
or you hope. It IS about what your client needs! And the best way to learn
their needs is to ask questions ... and listen.
There is a reason
we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth; we are suppose to listen twice as much
as we talk.
Listen to your client
to build an ongoing relationship.
2. Be responsive
to your clients requests
And be responsive
quickly, too. With a positive outlook. With a bold approach.
When you "hear",
respond. Listening is not enough. You must do something with that knowledge.
"Do" is important. Action, vs. passive.
- and then be brave. "Dream" the unusual. Look for other ways
to achieve. Search for a new path to walk. Stay out of the rut of ordinary
- go for a gold medal, blue ribbon, 5 stars. Truly "think different".
3. Provide a continuity
Yes, a parade of recommendations
and suggestions and thoughts. With a base of people your client can count
upon to serve them.
Present good "ideas"
... and be ready to defend them. Being ready is important. Also be willing
to back off and end debate. When the client says "no", understand
what that means. And move on.
A relationship means
your client is always right! They ARE the client - that makes them right
- not you.
A good relationship
is built upon the faith your client knows more than you about their business
and their customers. And sometimes even your most wonderful concept will
not be accepted. When that happens, go back to the drawing board and do
it again. Develop a new parade of ideas.
4. Be sensitive.
Talk with your client
The client is the
most important element in the mix. Not the product or service - not their
customers. Certainly not you!
Work with the troops.
Focusing on the upper echelon is fine. Still, remember, the grass roots
is where it's at.
Communication by voice,
by paper, with electronics to your entire client team will help build
relationships. Every so often a message to the boss. To the supervisors.
To those in the trenches. Let them know you are thinking about them, their
offerings, their customers.
or "to" is out ... talking with is in.
5. Personal interaction
is important - the "chemistry"
Your team and the
client team must work together, as a team. Find the right people in every
position to work with the client in every position. Peer to peer.
And have those right
people be trustworthy, earn respect, share a common goal and mission.
The "chemistry" of people working together is mandatory. When
it does not work everyone loses. So, when it does not work (and that time
will come!), change people! Take ego out of it and make a change.
As every day you need
to work on your relationship with your client. Oh, and be darn sure ALL
have some fun along this business road to the goal, to the mission!
6. Understand the
difference between Marketing and Sales
merchandising, public relations and promotion is one thing. Sales is another.
Know there is a difference.
You are frequently
a factor in the marketing and advertising. Generating leads. Creating
traffic. Getting the phone to ring, the fax received, the mail in the
door, something off the web site, an E-mail reply.
Yet, if you play any
real part in the sales process, it is a small part. The client does that.
Oh sure, you are helping with good marketing and advertising ideas. And
a service concept or two. With a thought to help in the call center. With
Yet know it is the
client who makes the sales. And truly generates the money.
7. Know that some
Marketing problems will not get solved with Marketing solutions
No matter how great
the idea, or how successful the execution of that idea - sometimes a tough
problem is going to remain a tough problem.
This is a "fact"
because the marketplace is a moving animal. New products and services
abound. Upgrades are frequent. Improvements happen. Fixes are necessary.
Things happen. And sometimes more marketing is not the answer.
Realism must be a
part of every idea, every discussion. The most wonderful idea isn't always
Promise only what
you know you can deliver. And then deliver it!
8. Be a good Money
Charge fair fares.
Give good value. Every day.
Money isn't fun to
talk about. And no matter how fair your fare, your client would like to
pay less. No matter how fair your fare, someone else out there will make
an offer of less. Both thoughts mean you must charge for value. And make
certain your client knows the value before they think about the money.
Charge for what you
do - yet, know the client is always looking for "a good deal".
Make certain your client gets what they are looking for ... a good deal.
9. Be a good Time
In the beginning set
a timetable - and stick to it.
From day one agree
on who is going to do what and when. Put it in writing and begin. With
everyone knowing everyone elses responsibilities against the clock.
Once the time frame
is set, if there is a need for a change, make certain it is because of
something the client needs, did, said, learned. And not because of you.
There could be an
outside circumstance that forced a change. A competitive situation. A
manufacturing problem inside the client operation. All fine. Make a change
when there is a need for change. And reset the timetable.
Controlling your time
will help you control the money.
10. Concentrate on
the account on hand
It is easy to wonder
about - and think ahead. All fine and good. Yet, you must take care of
what you have on your plate today.
It is always fun to
do something new. Make it a habit to do "new" things for your
client. Always reach out and up for more. "Think" for them and
with them. Concentrate on their needs.
Let your client know
you truly "love" them today, and more will come your way. When
the time is ripe.
11. Use your clients
This point should
be understood. It is not an option. It is expected.
Eat the cereal your
client sells. Drive the car your client builds. Use the hardware / software
your client develops. Bank at your clients bank. Eat at your clients restaurant.
Deal with your client. Whatever it is - get on board with your clients
product and services.
Besides loyalty -
which you client will "see" - you will learn things that help
you help them. There is nothing like a true user to gain insight into
what brings buyers and sellers together.
12. Be your client's
In good times and
bad your client needs someone to hold on to. Be that person.
Clients are like small
children. They need constant attention. It is easy to be around when things
are going good. It is much more difficult when times are tough. You need
to be available all the time - through thick and thin.
Be your clients security
blanket. Hold their hand. Reach out and touch. "Make love" with
your client. Let them know you truly care.
13. Everything must
come together - everything must work
The bottom line is
the clients bottom line. The most important business measurement is if
the marketing/advertising programs work. If they are effective.
Do they meet the company
goals and objectives - or do they not. Is everyone "happy".
Is the end result satisfactory.
Awards and kudos are
wonderful, yet, most often you can't take them to the bank. Remember what
the client asked as you began together - and work with them
always to fulfill that direction.
Everything must come
together - everything must work together.
That's it ... 13
Platinum Ideas on Working With Your Clients.
Put these ideas to
work for your company and enjoy a long relationship with your clients.