Relationships are like investments, says international author, Anthony Iannarino. The greater the investment, the higher the potential return.
Neglecting a client for eleven months out of a twelve month annual contract, for instance, would be a fairly poor investment.
It’s all well and good showering the client with attention in the weeks leading up to renewal, but that’s a bit like claiming the value before you’ve tried to create it.
Hardly the smoothest route into a conversation about money.
So what does a well invested relationship look like?
- You always know what’s going on
What’s the biggest issue currently affecting companies in your client’s sector?
If you don’t know, it’s time to do some research. Understanding what matters to your client means that you can address their concerns and help them find a solution.
Using a platform such as Artesian means that you get real time updates on your chosen businesses and sectors so will always have the latest information at your fingertips.
- You are a problem solver
If you know the issues impacting your client you can start to work out ways that your product can solve them. But that’s only part of the story. Don’t try to solve all of their problems with your product; sometimes advice or a referral to another business is the best solution.
It may sound counter intuitive, but if you can’t help, but know someone who can, their details are going to be valuable to your client – don’t be afraid to share useful information, even if it doesn’t directly lead to a benefit for your business.
- You listen
There’s a lot to be said for listening – many experts suggest that you should listen for 70% of the conversation and only talk for 30% of it.
Don’t assume that if you’re not talking you’re not seizing the business opportunity; remember, if you’re not talking, you’re listening to your client and learning more about them.
- You show integrity
Deliver what you said you would, when you said you would. If you said you would call the client at 9.15am on Friday, do it.
Whatever you promise you need to deliver. If you don’t, not only will you give them a reason not to trust you, you’re giving them a reason to go elsewhere.
- You ask the right questions
Don’t ask the client what they know about your business or product; ask them what’s going on in their business.
Not only will you find out useful information, it can be a great way to start a conversation that could help you spot an opportunity.
Asking people when they joined the company and who recruited them will tell you lots about their position and standing within the organisation.
- You are persistent not pushy
There is a fine line between keeping the channels of communication open and calling a client so much they start to avoid you.
If you’re going to get in touch have a reason to do so – an email congratulating a client on a big business win is better than a cold call. Put yourself in their shoes, how do you feel when businesses are in contact too much?
Even if it’s not a sales call, communication should be regular but not annoyingly frequent.
- You are honest
You can’t always answer every question you’re asked.
You can’t always deliver an order when you said you would.
But what you can do when things go wrong is be honest about it.
Don’t try to bluff – if you don’t know something, admit it and offer to look into it. If things won’t happen when they should, let the client know and keep them informed about when they can expect things to be back on track.
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