Clients want to know that you care. Taking the time to deepen relationships will pay off in the long run for both you and your client. Here are some things to consider for building and strengthening your relationship.
- Start by understanding what drives them – are they led by fear? Ego? What are their values? This impacts how we communicate with them. Ask questions, listen and research.
- There is no gray area about a deliverable or commitment. If something happens and a deadline needs to be pushed back, pick up the phone. You can’t read tone from an email.
- Are you meeting expectations? Ask, and listen. Start internally. What do you do well that they value? What don’t you do well that they value?
- Prepare in advance for calls. Assign roles in advance for the call if other team members are joining. Prepare for three toughest questions.
- Surprise and delight – remember birthdays/anniversaries, and consider sending handwritten notes.
- If clients are difficult, remember that it’s not always their fault. If we can approach them with a positive attitude, it can change the relationship. The client isn’t always wrong. Listen to their ideas. If you think their tactic may not be effective, try to understand the underlying goal and think of alternate routes to get there. We should be on the same team.
- Model the behavior you want the client to exhibit. “I know you’re busy, so I’ve prepared…” Over-communicate.
- If there is a problem that you need their help with, don’t show up without showing what you’ve tried, why it’s working (or not) and suggested solutions.
- Know your stuff!
- What’s best for Idea Grove and what’s best for the client should be in alignment.
- Know when to meet halfway, when to bring in internal help and when to give up.
- Be proactive instead of reactive. Don’t simply check off boxes. Be the partner who leads.
- Shift your focus from tactical to strategic (everything should revolve around goals).
- To consistently beat expectations, you first have to agree on what the expectations are. This should be mutual and documented.
- Stay a step ahead. Update the client on milestones before they ask. Anticipate future needs.
- Have a sense of productive urgency – clients can see, hear and feel it.