Gavin Ingham once said “Most salespeople make a sale to a client and then move on to the next one. Most clients think that salespeople only ring them when they want to a) sell something new or b) renew their contracts.
If someone only rang you when they wanted to sell your something or get you to commit to a new contract what would you think about them? What feelings and emotions would you associate with them?”
It’s a good point and a very good question.
When you want to nurture the relationship with a client, what should you be concentrating on?
What areas should you spend most time on and what does the client expect?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Build Trust: You need to be respectful and caring in a way that you deal with the client. This includes a) always being punctual with contacts (phone, email, face-to-face), b) being personal in all contacts (like sending them a hand-written note or giving them small gifts on special occasions) and c) being personal when the time is fitting (like sharing family anecdotes, etc)
2. Maintain Effective Contact: Always, always, always link up with the client on LinkedIn. It’s the best way to share articles, valuable information, ideas and concepts. When you come across an article, blog or web-page that you know your client would be interested in, it will take you 15 seconds to forward it onto them. And they will thank you for it.
3. Build a personal bond with them: Yes, business relationships are the most important area you should be concentrating on, but do not neglect the personal touch. We’re human beings, and we like to share things with people we like. If they like you, they are more likely to believe in you and trust you. So that personal touch is vital when you want to nurture the relationship.
4. Put them into Google Alerts: Putting a Google Alert aside for their company means you get their company news and blogs first. When you find out something interesting about their company, and you write to them to mention it, they will often thank you because they may not have heard about it! You become a font of knowledge to them and they appreciate you thinking of them.
5. Listen out for important information: As you nurture the relationship, you’ll hear things that they wouldn’t tell other suppliers. So pay attention to all the things they talk about because, although it may sound trivial to you, the very fact they are mentioning it means it could be important to them.
6. Always deliver more than you promise: Your client ill expect you to deliver quality products and services, on time and at the right price. Those are ‘givens’. If you want to build relationships long-term, do more than is expected. let the client know that you really care. Show them your abilities stretch further than just being a service provider.
7. Show them how to make good business decisions: This means that you stop thinking of yourself as a sales person and start being a partner to their business. Come up with ideas that others have used and succeeded in doing. Your experience with many other clients should help you share ideas that have worked for others. Even companies in different industries may benefit from an idea that a company you know have tried and succeeded with. So share how to make great business decisions, and they will thank you for it.
8. Respond Proactively: This might seem like an oxymoron, but if you can make all your responses to their needs as quickly as possible, you build the reputation for speed of response and quality of information. Plus, you start to anticipate problems before they occur and can come up with ideas and suggestions that they will appreciate, before they become big issues.
9. Give advice. Be proactive in what advice you give the client. They want knowledgeable, informed suppliers who can help them run their businesses in a successful way. Giving advice when you have the knowledge to do so will build solid foundations for long-term business relationships.
10. Get referrals the proper way: Most salespeople (if they ever do) will ask for referrals and hope to get extra business. The best way to get referrals id to introduce new prospects to your client’s business. That way, you are giving as well as asking to receive.
11. Nurture the business for their benefit: This makes it a win-win for both you and the client. When you do things that will benefit their business, they get the returns and you create more reasons why they should remain loyal to you.
12. Learn from every interaction: Do your contacts with the client build close relations, help the client to sell more, build their profits, cut their costs, reduce their overheads, improve turnover, and a plethora of other benefits? If so, learn how you actually accomplished those things. Then you apply them with other clients so they receive those benefits too.
These tips will help you develop your skills as a client-relationship manager and offer all your contacts the benefits of having you as a partner to their business.