By Victoria Munro and Dave Block
Achieving success in today’s economy demands a different approach to marketing and relating to current and future clients. We can no longer rely on marketing strategies that have worked in the past. Rather, knowing that people choose to do business with those they know, like and trust, we should focus on developing those relationships.
Building strong relationships, based on trust, is key to finding and keeping loyal clients—the kind who will refer you to their friends and colleagues. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as “Assured confidence on the reliability, character, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Building such relationships is especially important to those who work closely with clients, such as lawyers, accountants, consultants, coaches, realtors, financial planners and insurance agents.
Following through on commitments made is essential to building relationships of trust. Finding out and responding to what your clients, and future clients, truly want, need and expect will further strengthen this bond. Ideally, you should aim to become a trusted advisor. The following suggestions will help you achieve this.
Ask these questions to help you understand what your clients really want:
- What would you expect in an outstanding relationship with a (fill in the blank) lawyer, coach, insurance agent, etc.?
- Have you worked with a (fill in the blank) before? On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being terrible and 10 being terrific), how would you rate that relationship? If the answer is less than a 10, ask what it would have taken to bring this up to a 10.
- How do you prefer to communicate: by email, phone or in person?
- How much explanation and detail would you like when we communicate?
What do you consider the most important aspect of customer service? Tell me about your biggest customer service frustration.
Give really good referrals:
- Find out who would be an ideal customer for each of your clients. Then be on the lookout for these companies or individuals, tell them about your client and suggest they connect.
Cultivate a sincere interest in each of your clients:
- Get to know and appreciate them personally. Find out what makes them tick. In casual conversation, ask about their family, interests, hobbies, passions, books they enjoy, etc.
Record your clients’ information:
- Use your CRM (contact resource management) database to keep in touch often.
Keep Top of Mind:
- Think about different ways to ‘touch’ clients, for example: email, hand-written notes, birthday cards, breakfast, lunch, coffee or a ballgame together.
- Brainstorm other creative ways to communicate with your clients, and how you can make these ‘touches’ more meaningful.
- Record your actions and ideas. Each quarter, take a few minutes to review their effectiveness.
- Building strong relationships based on trust takes time and effort, but the rewards personally and financially are well worth the investment. Our world is changing rapidly. We can’t depend on marketing strategies that have worked in the past. Solid, caring, trust-based relationships will be key to thriving in the future.
About the Authors: Dave Block and Victoria Munro are co-founders of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small business owners through creatively-designed programs and tools. Dave is known as the “Master Networker” in the business community and loves sharing how to become a successful business owner by learning the art of networking. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at: www.Make-it-Fly.com, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.