The relationship between you and your clients shouldn’t be solely focused on business transactions. Deeper client relationships start with a willingness to get to know your customers on a personal level rather than as a number on your invoice.
But there are nuances that go into obtaining a loyal customer base and advancing them into motivated brand advocates willing to promote your products on your company’s behalf. To assist you in making those deeper connections, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer their best relationship-building strategies below.
1. Listen More Than You Talk
Deep client relationships happen easily when you teach your sales staff to listen more than they talk. When clients are given the opportunity to be heard, they are candid and forthright about what they need, and they feel valued and appreciated in the process. They feel safe with their sales rep and with your company when they sense that you are actually trying to understand what is happening in their world instead of focusing on what is going on in yours. - Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
2. Exchange Life And Business Stories
Moving from a client-vendor interaction to a client-partner relationship takes a little bit of time and a lot of trust. Trust is built not only when you deliver and communicate well on client needs, but also when you get to know them. One simple way to build that trust is to show genuine interest in the person you are working with. Get to know your client. Ask questions about how they got started or where they grew up. In exchange, share your story. This may seem like it’s intrusive, but you would be surprised how far a simple nonwork-related conversation can go. Don’t force it, but keep your ears open for opportunities to dig a little deeper, and you will start to build a comfortability and trust that can set both sides up for success. - Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting
3. Make Time For In-Person Meetups
This may seem overly simplistic, but truly connect with clients outside of business (if you can and it's appropriate) and do good work for them on a professional level. We have had some of the same clients for over two decades now. Part of cultivating deep relationships, in addition to keeping them happy on a professional level, involves making time to see clients in person. Take them to lunch, bring food to their staff and invite them to sporting events. If those are not feasible, just reach out over the phone and ask them how they are doing. Be genuine in your interactions and make them a priority. - Kristy Knichel, Knichel Logistics
4. Ensure You’re Providing Value
Too often I see entrepreneurs make decisions based on what they assume the client wants. They end up trying to sell a product, rather than build a relationship. When in doubt, ask questions. Find out if you are providing value or wasting their time. Listen to their answers and show them that you understand their objectives and you care about their business. If they respond by telling you what you want to hear, that's a good tipoff. It means that you're providing them value and you're helping them accomplish their goals. You don't have to be an expert at every product or service they use, but you do have to show them that you know their goals and that you understand the problems they have. - Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
5. Check In Regularly
Unexpected check-ins do wonders! A few times a month on my drive home, I’ll call a few of our clients just to check in with them. No agenda at all—just a friendly call to say “Hi” and hear how things are going for them. Even if you don’t reach them, leaving a friendly voicemail does wonders to strengthen the relationship. And, of course, if you have too many clients to call individually, sending a handwritten note just to say “Hi” works equally well! - Arian Radmand, IgnitePost
6. Ask For Their Feedback
Pay close attention to any areas where clients express dissatisfaction. You can use tools such as surveys and polls to gauge how customers feel. However, it's best to talk directly to people when you can. Ask them if there's anything they feel could be improved. Some customers won't give you feedback unless they are prompted. People will appreciate it if they know you really care. Personalized service makes it more likely that customers will give you referrals. You can do this in an informal way, such as by sending out quick messages via email, text or social media to inquire about someone's purchase or service. - Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
It's always good to know that you are appreciated, so your clients need to feel that, for you, working with them is a privilege and not a casual deal. One tip I would give to every business is to overdeliver. Provide your clients with an excellent product or service and always give a little extra on top. Your clients will appreciate your efforts no matter what industry you are in. - Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
8. Communicate Consistently
You’ll get to know your clients the same way you get to know anybody in your life—through consistent communication. Whether it's asking for feedback or engaging them through social media (depending on the client you're working with), staying in touch is key to forming a deeper relationship. People like to know that you're thinking of them, whether it's personal or professional. Keep communication active after the job is done. This will help them to feel like more than just another number in your books. The best part about engaging clients like this is that it can encourage work in the future. If you stay in touch, not only do you gain a new professional relationship, but you may also guarantee further employment down the line. It's a win-win! - Nick Venditti, StitchGolf
Image Credit: Photo by MART PRODUCTION
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