Cultivating clients

Clients are the crux of any business as no clients means no money. Broadly, clients can be divided into two categories: the ‘not-so-good’ and the ‘good’. It’s quite likely that one assumes this division to be based on the demands the client makes. However, there is more to this.

The not-so-good clients can be outlined by poor business, which in turn has an impact on the business of your company. On the other hand, good clients can make your business flourish. Thus, it is essential to identify these magicians and strive towards providing them with quality and innovative services. Most importantly, it is essential to maintain good relations with them. This may sound easy; however, there is a fine line that comes into play as being strictly professional could be hazardous for a client who is a people’s person, while an overtly friendly attitude could hamper your professionalism. So how can you create that win-win situation? Here are a few quick pointers:

A new client means excitement over a new beginning along with apprehensions regarding the future. This is a critical stage as it can either lay or ruin the road ahead. Befriending the client is of utmost importance. As the saying goes, first impressions are hard to change; so for your first meeting, make sure you are at the client’s office before the stipulated time. Dress formally, carry your company’s credentials and do not forget your business cards. These subtle nuances help convince the client that you mean business. Being confidence is half the battle is won.

Initially, it is advisable to address your client by sir or madam even if you know they follow the first name culture as it is essential to treat your client with utmost respect at all times.

At the first meeting, be more of a listener than a speaker. Understand your client’s problem, viewpoints and ideas and present yourself as a solution provider.

In the initial days, make it a point to meet the client at least once in a month. Do not get disheartened by the time consumption since some clients are always hard to please. Make frequent calls, ask relevant questions, discuss various issues and the route will be simpler. However, just keep it real.

For instance, if there is any kind of emergency in the vicinity or city where your client is based, send them a text message, confirming his/her safety. This is something which does not take time and will go a long way. Wishing your client on their birthday and sending a bouquet is always perceived as a thoughtful gesture. If the client is perceived to be irate, try your best to turn the tide. Perceptions could be wrong.

Once you have built the rapport with a client, the next step would be getting your client to trust you and your expertise-completely. While you may be an expert on your field, make sure you do not come across as being brash. Remember, the client knows his business best irrespective of the number of years you would have served in the account.

Taking an extra step will help you go a long way. Keep your client posted on the latest developments in the industry or on competition via mails as constant feed. You could even run a few ideas past him/her, which could have been successful elsewhere. S/he may or may not implement them, but would know that you are striving for the best.

Whether it’s about sending the requested documents or seeking approvals, be prompt in your responses to the client and follow up regularly. If the client is unreasonable, it is best to maintain your dignity. If you cannot change your client, you may want to change the way you deal with your client. What really works wonders is to keep smiling.

After establishing a bond with the client for over months, maintaining the relationship is essential. A word of caution: even if you have hit it off with the client like a house on fire, make sure you maintain your distance. Owing to your friendship, you would not want your client to take you for granted by making incessant demands since it can become difficult to say no. Remember, both of you are working towards the benefit of your respective companies, and nothing must hamper this process. Owing to the number of working hours, there may be times when the relationship may become more than just platonic. However, breaking out of ceasefire can result in difficulties in your professional relationship.

Judge your client, and decide for yourself if the client needs extra pampering. Accordingly, device a strategy that will work for the benefit of both. Never forget the age old adage, better safe than sorry. Clients are the base of the business. While individuals move on, the brand remains. So look at the bigger picture.

Here today, there tomorrow’ is something which is common. If you switch jobs within the industry, it’s quite likely that while today you are servicing a client, tomorrow s/he may be offering their service to you. The world is round so try to be nice.