Any company is only as strong as its current client base. Businesses come and go on a daily basis, but it is the companies that heavily invest in their customer relations that stick around year after year. Whether you are entering a career in sales or are looking to become a marketing manager, you must know how to foster long-term client relationships to be successful in your field. Building and keeping these relationships is not a simple, one-step endeavor. You must invest time and resources at an individual and company-wide level in order to be effective. The good news is, it’s worth it. It costs 7x more budget to acquire a new client than it does to retain an existing client, according to Kissmetrics. Plus, you’ll practice building transferable skills that will make you successful in almost any job. It takes careful planning, consistency and emotional intelligence to foster relationships and become an integral asset in your clients' lives—your approach should be much more than just a weekly or monthly call. To prepare you to build a loyal client base, here are four tips and tricks about how to get started developing these meaningful relationships:
[bctt tweet="To foster long-term #clientrelationships, follow these four tips and tricks" username="StartupInst"]
1. Bond with your client
Before you can ever hope to build long-term client relationships, you first need to bond with them. The secret to developing this bond is authenticity. Don't force it until it is ready and certainly do not feign interest in hobbies, interests, or activities in an effort to connect with your clients. Start with common ground and interests and build upon this foundation.
For example, maybe your client is passionate about the same sports team you love or you both have young children. Instead of launching into your usual sales or marketing pitch, talk about these commonalities and begin forging a bond before you ever mention your product or service. Then, mirror their body language and make an attempt to improve your nonverbal communication. The vast majority of communication is nonverbal, which is why paying attention to their reactions and body language is so essential in forming this bond. After all, you don't want to lose a sale or client because you looked more abrasive or bored than you actually felt.
2. Follow through on promises and deadlines
One of the most important elements in building successful long-term client relationships is following through on promises and deadlines. The old saying of "your word is your bond" should directly apply to your approach to client relations, says Forbes. Whenever you or your team commits to a project you must deliver it on time to keep your client from losing trust in you and your company.
There should be no doubt in your clients' minds about whether you will be able to meet their needs. If they don't worry about your ability to meet deadlines, they will be less likely to move to another company to do their business. Once you build this trust and mutual respect, you will be well on your way to fostering a long-term client relationship.
[bctt tweet="Build mutual trust. There should be no doubt in your client's mind that you can meet their needs." username="StartupInst"]
3. Treat customers like people, not numbers
If you want to develop long-term client relationships, you need to treat them like people, not numbers. Follow the Golden Rule and treat them the same way you would any person in a budding friendship. For example, if you were beginning new friendships or relationships, wouldn't you take the time to learn your new friend’s name, remember an interesting fact about them, and simply be friendly? Use this transferable skill of relationship building and apply it to your job.
You probably wouldn't buy a product or service from salespeople who never took the time to learn your name or treat you with respect. So, why should you think that your clients would be any different? Following your first encounter, record idiosyncratic personal facts about each of your clients so that you can refresh your memory before each call or meeting. Your clients will be more willing to stick around if, in addition to following these other tips, you consistently ask them about their woodworking hobby or remember their family vacation overseas.
4. Remember to be patient
Like with any friendship or relationship, it takes time to form and solidify client bonds. It may be tempting to try to speed up the process with disingenuous sales or marketing tactics, but if you want to foster long-term client relationships — not just short-lived ones — you must learn to be patient. To accomplish this, make sure that there is a steady back-and-forth of learning something about your client and then sharing information about yourself in each call or meeting.
Use each of these strategies and continue to build upon them each time you speak with your clients. While it may seem tedious, they will notice your hard work and that you are willing to go the extra mile for them. Keep in mind that just because you established this bond, it doesn’t mean you can stop making an effort. Keep investing the time and resources and you will keep your client happy for years to come.