February 12, 2015
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, reflect on the rules that govern your relationships with those you care about, and apply them to your relationship with clients.
- Always follow up: if you promised to do something, do it earlier if possible. Let the customer know if you can’t keep an arrangement well ahead of time. Being proactive lets your clients know their needs are a priority. Frequent communication will keep both you and your client on the same page and on schedule. With a spouse, it’s a no brainer. Not showing up for a dinner date or canceling last minute sends you straight to the doghouse. Making a reservation can get you extra brownie points.
- Strive to make people happy: compare a business meeting to a first date. Obviously you want to make a good impression but it takes more than that for a second date. A stronger connection is built when a customer feels that you won’t disappoint them. Stand in your client’s shoes, anticipate what questions they may have for you and think ahead so that you can be prepared.
- Conversation: get to know them more genuinely and keep in touch after doing business by sending email newsletters and updates. Just like you would on a date, have a genuine conversation with a client to learn his or her hobbies and find a connection. You both love golfing? Great, now they will have a better chance of remembering you and maybe even set up an afternoon on the course. Furthermore, sending email updates keeps your business fresh in their mind. Perhaps down the road you can rekindle.
- Be transparent: trust is based around transparency. It shows you have nothing to hide. Don’t leave any blurred lines and be honest. Surprising your significant other with flowers is a sweet gesture but surprises are not always welcome in business. Being up front is the best way to handle bad news. A vague answer to beat around the bush loses a customer’s trust. Build a foundation of honesty and open communication from the start.
- Reward loyalty: reward your long-term clients; they are your best salespeople. You gave your wife that rock on her finger in return for her loyalty. Your longest running clients should feel appreciated for their loyalty too. They are the ones who will give you the most valuable referrals. A diamond ring may not be the best investment in this case, but offering special discounts, free trials or giveaways are all great ways to show your gratitude.
- Build your network: turn your network of contacts into customers. Colleagues, friends of friends, old classmates, suppliers, contractors etc. Always think of new business opportunities. Your sister’s roommate’s cousin’s plumber is now looking for a new marketing agency? Ask for their number, they are more likely to be a meaningful customer because you share a connection.