Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Tactics You Can Use to Strengthen Client Relationships

We all know that relationships are the foundation of successful project and client pursuits. But, do we really understand what it takes to form a real connection with our clients?

According to a recent survey of 200 buyers of professional services, 85 percent said they’ve encountered at least one major problem with a service provider during the sales process, including: “Did not listen to me” “Did not understand my needs” “Did not respond to my requests and correspondences in a timely manner”

Truth is, there’s a lot more to building and fostering client relationships than giving and receiving a business card. The following 10 tips can turn an otherwise cold acquaintance into a qualified pursuit.

1. Have a plan. No matter what the endeavor, you must have a plan. Determine your targets and include action items, costs and timetables. Monitor your progress periodically.

2. Know their business. It’s impossible to understand a client’s needs if you don’t understand their business. Start by finding out what they read and which organizations they belong to. Then, read those publications and attend applicable functions.

3. Know them personally. People do business with people they like. Figure out ways to get to know their interests outside of work. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from just a quick visit to their office.

4. Listen with your ears and your eyes. You can tell when someone isn’t really listening to you. So can your clients. While they are speaking, look at them and listen with your eyes. They’ll pick up on your nonverbal communication.

5. Make the most of meetings and phone calls. An occasional “how are you” call is certainly okay. As a general rule, have an agenda for each client communication. Leave the meeting or end the call with action items and next steps.

6. Expand your network within the client organization. Sure, there’s usually one ultimate decision maker in each company. But, don’t exclude the influentials. They can be extremely valuable in your information gathering. Plus, they often influence the decision maker. Get to know as many people as you can within the organization.

7. Share leads. Remember, it’s not just about what you get from the relationship. Find ways to help them be successful in their industry, such as sharing information about industry trends or passing on business leads to them.

8. Confidentiality is key. A breach of trust is the quickest way to sever a relationship – client or otherwise. Don’t do it. Don’t even consider it. Ever!

9. Give and give again. It’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t expect to get awarded a project after the first face-to-face meeting.

10. Stay focused. Again, it’s all about your plan. Don’t let it collect dust on the shelf. Use it and refer to it often. Revise it as necessary. Keeping track of your progress will ultimately enhance your existing relationships and help you form new ones.

Maintaining a great relationship with your clients will ultimately benefit you and your firm’s bottom line…make sure you make strengthening your client connections a priority.

Looking for more information on how to better manage your client relationships…come to PSMJ’s 2011 A/E/C Marketing Bootcamp: THE Program On How To Get And Keep Clients. PSMJ is hosting only 3 more bootcamps this spring: June 2-3 in Washington, DC, June 9-10 in Chicago, and June 23-24 in Las Vegas. Get the tools and confidence you need to succeed in bringing in more work for the firm – register today!

No comments:

Follow @PSMJ_Resources