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Friday, October 21, 2011

Client relationships are like...


And you want it to be a good one, right? Let's face it, though. Not all marriages are good, and not all last a lifetime. Some marriages last six weeks, some last for two years, and some last a whole life long! Relationships with clients should be formed with the intention of making them last a lifetime, not just a couple of years.

Unfortunately, there are some so-called "sales people" who ruin, or at least hinder the success of legit sales people. They neglect their clients to the point of utterly frustrating them, or disappoint them to the point where they are hell bent on never talking to another sales person again! Not now, not ever! Because those phonies lied to them and broke their trust, then left them in the cold.

Sometimes, you happen to inherit some of these disgruntled clients without your new boss telling you why the old sales guy got canned, and without knowing what you're walking into. You have to fix this problem quickly! Good luck dealing with that, right? Here's what you do...


Despite popular belief, it's never too late to apologize. Even if it's not your fault. Yes, even if you personally didn't do the damage. It's still happened to your inherited, or potential client, so make it clear to them you're different. Apologize for the past mistakes made by the previous guy. That's one way to immediately rectify, or at least begin to rectify, the situation. The next step is to ask important questions as to how this situation can be resolved. Ask what you personally can do to help. You'd be amazed at how much that could turn things around! A company that was once about to lose a client could gain much more business from that existing client just by doing one thing...

Showing them that you care

I also have to stress that you shouldn't be disingenuous. Clients can smell a lie from a mile away. They can also tell if you're being real with them in acting like you care about them. So genuinely care so much about making that person happy, that you stop thinking about what might be in it for you. Think only about what you can do to make THEM happy. I guarantee they'll love you for it!

Make your client look good

The most loyal clients usually turn out to be the ones you help to look better, and not just aesthetically. If you help to improve your client's business in a way that creates value and efficiency, you've probably gained that client for life! If you find a way to save them time to do the activities they enjoy, instead of wasting it on products that aren't working, you've probably gained that client for a lifetime! Just remember, you have to provide consistent value to your client.

Listening is caring

One of the many keys to great communication is being an aggressive listener, not an aggressive talker. Aggressive listening means you are so intent on listening to your client, that you let them talk until they're finished with their point, until you know they are done! And with no exceptions. Listening is the key to gaining something from your client. It is the key to helping them make their business, and your relationship, successful. It also lets them know you value them, and what they have to say. It lets them know you care about them as human beings, not just as clients.

Building a foundation of trust and honesty

Any great relationship is built on trust and honesty. If you lie to someone, it's hard for them to ever trust your word again. It's also a major deal breaker in business. Contrary to what some people might believe, lying is a major way to lose much more than can possibly be gained momentarily from it. It can cause you to potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions that could be made by not breaking a client's trust. The relationship that is built on trust can literally yield millions over a lifetime of an honest and trusting relationship with a client. Now, you tell me if it's worth the loss to be dishonest...

Becoming friends

And given time, they may trust you with very personal bits of information about their lives. That's part of the reason I believe prospects are leery of dealing with salespeople. They know that if they do business with you, there is potential to become friends, and that could get you dangerously close to them. They need  to know you are deserving of knowing them and their business.

Allowing them to need you

You've probably heard that song about how people need people. Well, I hate to sound sappy, but it's true. Have you ever seen a person become successful all by himself? I doubt it. There was someone along the way who believed in him or her, and saw potential, and wanted to work with them to achieve a goal. I've had mentors who've really backed me up, because they believed in me, too! I haven't become successful in my field all by myself, either. And in much the same way that sales leaders need mentors to believe in them, your clients need you to believe in them and their business. And they need to believe in you, too. They are counting on you to do a good job for them, and to help them maximize their potential. Embrace the fact that you need each other, and nurture the relationship. Twenty years later, you'll realize it was all worth it.

As always, thanks for stopping by...CC

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