Recently, we shared with you how to attract qualified leads and nurture them in your sales funnel and also how to prevent middle of the sales funnel starvation. Every touchpoint in your sales funnel plays a significant role to lead a prospect through the sales process and ultimately converting them as a client. After they become a client, it is very easy to take the client relationship for granted and then we get the dreaded call with the words, “we found someone else.”
There are many reasons (or excuses) we can say when this happens. We can say they are a strong client and do not need us as much as other clients, or we can say that we got sidetracked with “other priorities.” We can say we thought another account manager was continuing the relationship. Whatever the reason or excuse, the client was not taken care of and did not feel valued.
We want to help you build strong client relationships. Any relationship takes time and effort. Business relationships are no exception. Here are four ways to help you keep your client relationship strong.
- You be the one to initiate. Do not wait for them to call or email you. Whether you touch base with them once a week or twice a month, it is important that you are making the initiation. More often than not, we hear the phrase, “while I have you on the phone, I have a question…” We cannot tell you how many times an initiated call as led to new projects with the client or referrals to more prospects. By initiating, you are showing your client that they are valuable. Even if it is a 5-minute call, they feel valued.
- Be proactive with ideas. As an authority in your field, you continuously fine-tune your skillsets and understand the trends and patterns of your industry. If you are a marketing professional, it is in your best interest to know what is happening now and where trends are headed. Use your authority and expertise to bring new ideas to your clients when you see a trend or technology that might benefit them. Not only does this strengthen your client relationship, it also builds trust. Even if they say, “no, I don’t think that will work right now or let’s sit on it”, they will feel valued because you are thinking of their best interest.
- Be realistic about your promises. Promises that are made and kept define the integrity of your relationship with a client. Why do we break promises? We believe there are two main reasons. 1) They are made in a reactive in-the-moment rather than proactive thoughtfulness and 2) they are not realistic. When you make a promise, are you doing it reactively to a situation that could have been avoided? When you make a promise, are you making it out of fear of the customer’s reaction, therefore making it unrealistic? Believe it or not, clients feel valued and will trust you, when you make proactive promises and offer thought and even push back (in a good way). They would rather you say, “let me think about this and get back to you” to make sure you can do it instead of saying “yes” in the moment and under deliver.
- Use your CRM to help you remember. When you multi-task and manage several clients, it is easy to let something slip your mind. In client relationship building, your CRM is your greatest asset. Use your CRM to document your conversation, ideas and your client’s reactions, your promises and other information important to your relationship like birthdays, events, follow-ups and deadlines. We can only remember so much, but a CRM keeps us on track. If you are not using a CRM, it is time to seriously think about it.
These four ways, individually, can help build client relationships, but, in truth, they are most effective when done collectively. Initiation through conversation leads to new ideas which leads to realistic promises and follow through which is managed through your CRM. If you have questions about client relationship building after the sales funnel, we would love to start a conversation with you.