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How to Build Strong Client Relationships [Expert Roundup]

Partnerships are one of the most important aspects of business. It does not matter what your industry is or how your company is structured. In most cases, you either sell products or provide services which means your whole business is dependent on the relationships built with clients.

We asked 8 professionals to share how they approach this important issue. Here is the advice they shared for our blog:

Client-Friendly Approach

Many people believe, especially in my industry, that you have to be cold and calculated when it comes to client relationships. You have a meeting, shake hands, and don’t see each other til the next meeting. This is just not the way to build anything, let alone a healthy client relationship.

Take them out to dinner, get to know them and what they do. Be interested, but also be interesting enough as a person as well as a company to keep them wanting to come back for more.

It’s not wrong to be friendly with clients, I think it benefits both of you far more than a stuffy meeting room. Conferences are great as they are more relaxed, but who says you can’t talk business over a drink?

Always Be Present

As the co-founder of a product development firm, client relationships are always on my mind. We live and die by the quality, longevity, and depth of our client relationships. The clients that we have the best relationships with are not necessarily the ones that things have always gone smoothly with – they are the ones that we have overcome adversity with.

To build a deep and lasting client relationship, walk with her through the ups and downs of business. Don’t just engage the client when the pipeline is light or when they reach out to you. Be there when things turn difficult, proving you aren’t afraid of a tough conversation. This shows them that you will be there not only when things are awesome, but also when things are dark or uncertain. This way, you become one of the people they call when facing challenges in the future.

Build Trust and Be Honest

The one tip that I have on building strong client relationships, is to build trust and to always be honest. Far too often, marketing and advertising agencies provide unrealistic expectations to clients and fail: overpromise and fail to deliver.

This leads to clients being skeptical about not only the future with their marketing agency of record but other agencies as well for future business dealings. It is always better to be honest with a client on their needs and expectations, as well as building trust so that clients understand you have their best interests in mind and not just your bottom line profit. The client trusts you as a subject matter expert, and you should always let them know you have their best interests.

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Be Trustworthy

“Honesty is the best policy”, an old saying to live by when it comes to any kind of relation. Lack of trust in business relationships is no different.

To establish a long-lasting relationship with your client, make sure that you’re honest and truthful in the suggestions you make, in everything you promise, and in everything you say.

Most people can tell when you’re lying, clients are no different. If they can’t figure out they’re being lied to at first, they will eventually and that will be bad for business.

Go the Extra Mile

My best tip for building strong client relationships would probably be to make sure you go the extra mile to overdeliver on what you have promised them.

If you are giving 100% and doing everything you can to make sure that you are delivering what you promised the client, then they are going to appreciate it and it’s certainly not going to do your relationship with them any harm.

When I go over and above for my clients, it almost always results in the relationship strengthening and I am lucky enough to still have strong working relationships with clients today that I started working with over 5 years ago.

Provide Solutions to Their Problems

When I am hired for a small bit of work, I always look around to see what else could use my attention. Then, when I turn in the job, I add a note like, “While I was on your website writing your press release, I couldn’t help noticing (three other places I can help). Would you like me to address those for you?

The clients are always thrilled, and they switch from seeing me as a service provider to seeing me as a trusted advisor who has their best interests at heart. In several cases, this has transformed an initial purchase in the low- to mid-hundreds to an ongoing client relationship with total value in the mid-five-figures.

As a profitability consultant for green and social entrepreneurship businesses–and author of 10 books, most recently “Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World” (endorsed by Seth Godin, Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, and many others), I show businesses how they can go beyond mere sustainability (keeping things the same) to develop and market profitable products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.

There are many opportunities to turn a sale into this kind of consultive relationship. My advice to other business owners: look for the opportunities to fix other problems and bring those to the client’s attention.

LPD: Listening, Planning and Delivering

In my 25 years of client service experience the number one way to build strong client relationships is by LPD: Listening, Planning and Delivering. Listen to their problems – the ones they articulate and the ones they only hint at.

Create a plan for how you will solve the problem for them. If you can, collaborate on the plan with your client so they feel ownership and control. Then Deliver, deliver, deliver. There’s nothing that builds a stronger client relationship than delivering results that solve their problems.

Be Flexible

Be flexible. This means doing clients the occasional favor, such as turning around a project on short notice or within a rush timeframe at no extra cost, or being willing to make occasional adjustments to your own tools and systems to accommodate a valued client’s processes and procedures.

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