I’ve always enjoyed the month of February. I know it may seem odd, but I find it beats the Christmas hangover that seems to last all through January. February is also home to Valentine’s Day, which brings about a barrage of candlelit dinners, gifts and romantic getaways (plus it’s one month closer to spring, but that’s besides the point). However, it’s quite interesting to see that the “month of romance” is quickly forgotten come March and all of the romantic gestures seem to fade away.
Relationships of course aren’t just limited to romantic ones either as the same scenario can be applied to business relationships. You gain a new client and you’re excited to be working with them. You ensure that they’re being catered to in every way possible and follow up with them frequently. However, as time goes on you get busy as other clients enter the picture and you might forget to follow up and maintain the same level of connection with that initial client. This is where many business owners falter as it opens the door for competitors to come in and sweep clients “off their feet.”
So how can you keep your clients engaged and ensure that they remain loyal in today’s ultra-competitive market? Keep reading to discover some tips that you can implement throughout the client-relationship process to help not only retain clients, but see your relationships flourish.
Of course, the first place to start is when you first meet a client a.k.a. the initial meeting. This could be online, over the phone or in person at an event. This stage usually consists of you, the business owner, attempting to get the potential client to open up about their business and their biggest needs. It’s critical in this stage to keep the conversation focused on them since people enjoy talking about what they’re passionate about and tend to shut down when they feel that they are being sold on something.
Not sure how to get people to open up? Try and ask open-ended questions that make it easy to ask follow up questions to keep the conversation going. A good example would be to ask someone what’s the most important aspect of their business or what kind of clients do they typically cater too. This way you not only get insight into their business, but it’s much easier to ask other questions and even briefly mention how your company could offer a solution. However, it’s important to not be overly detailed with your solution as you should always leave them wanting more. Remember that the end goal of this stage is to set up a meeting with the person which brings us to the next stage.
This stage is where you work on developing your relationship with the client and typically covers your first formal meeting all the way to the completion of your first transaction or project. In this stage, it’s still important to continue to learn as much about their business as possible, but you can now start discussing how you plan on satisfying their business needs in great detail.
Once they become a client, it is then important to learn all of your points of contact within their company and introduce yourself and your applicable team members. That way you and your team won’t be stuck if they have a question during a project and their main contact is not available. It also helps to strengthen the partnership between your two companies since it adds a level of familiarity. It’s critical to remember that this stage technically never ends as companies are always fluctuating due to staff changes, office relocations, etc. so staying in touch with your contacts is of the utmost importance.
Now that your first project is completed with the client, it’s imperative to remain in contact with them. This where your online marketing becomes essential as consistent social media posts, monthly newsletters and helpful blogs come in handy as they remind clients that you’re there. Another tip is to check what work you’ve already done for them and see if you can increase the number of services that they receive from you. A good example of this would be a car dealership that sold 3 full-size vans to a catering business for deliveries. Now those vans are going to need to be serviced and maintained; so a friendly email or phone call reminding them of this can go a long way in strengthening your relationship and, in turn, increasing your business.
Lastly, a great way to bring clients back to you is through incentives. A good example would be a client that you’ve done work for in the past who is unsure about a service that you’ve discussed with them several times. Sending out a time sensitive incentive is a great way to help get those clients who are hesitant to act on a deal. It’s important to remember that throughout the continued growth stage you should be doing just that, growing your relationship. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or send off a quick email to a client to just check in and see how they’re doing. You’ll be surprised by how many opportunities arise!
Navigating and managing client relationships is no easy task in today’s ever-changing business landscape. However, technology is making it easier than ever to efficiently and effectively stay in contact with clients and strengthen relationships. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when seeking new clients or looking to bolster and strengthen current ones!