Dan Heffernan

6 Tips for Building Stronger Client Relationships

A friend of mine just told a story of a meeting with a client where he was completely ambushed by the plant manager of the manufacturing facility. My friend had been instructed to prepare 6 slides covering topics X, Y, and Z. He didn’t get through his 2nd bullet on the first slide when the plant manager interrupted and ripped him up one side and down the other. This is a nightmare for any account manager. 

We sell niche software and have less than 60 direct clients worldwide, so strong client relationships are crucial to our success. Everyone in sales knows how important good references are, and building and keeping those strong relationships is directly related to future sales. 

Here are 6 tips from my 40+ years of experience with such relationships: 

1. Listen. 

It’s disarming for a client to have the vendor actually listen to their complaints. Let the person talk until they’re done. Then… 

2. Thank them for their feedback. 

This really helps diffuse a tense situation. Don’t defend yourself. You don’t even have to respond, other than to say you’re going to investigate the situation and come back to them. Then… 

3. Take action. 

Do the follow-up. Do what you said you were going to do, and strike while the iron is hot rather than delay. I think many people are surprised when action is actually taken which makes a difference. Is an apology appropriate? If so, make one.  

4. Proactively pursue in-person meetings with your client. 

There is nothing quite like meeting in person to find out how a client’s business is doing, how the person is doing, and watching the body language and facial expressions as they relate with you. You can often smell trouble in-person that isn’t perceptible on video calls. 

5. Show your client that you care and that as their partner, you want to know how you can help them. 

For example, if a client is strapped for cash, offer to soften the blow with a payment plan. If they’ve had layoffs, offer to step up your services to fill the gap.  

6. Remember the personal side of the business relationship. 

Relationships between companies are not between the corporate entities themselves (inanimate objects) but between the persons at those companies. Over the years your business relationships can become deep friendships. Treat your clients like friends and ask them about their families when it’s appropriate. Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, children’s names, illnesses, etc. and stay in touch on these topics. 

Building and maintaining a strong relationship with a client can increase the revenue you earn from them. Isn’t that worth some time and TLC? 

Read this article here at InPublishing.

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