This is a perfect time to think about the client relationships you want to take forward and develop in the New Year. If you are able to differentiate yourselves from the competition, build strong relationships, and deliver high service levels then these are reasons clients will continue to work with you.

Last week’s article talk about why you must Start Your Business Growth Planning Process before January, client relationship building is one of the strategies to ensure you start the New Year with a focused client building plan of action. Every year I select 5 companies or people I want to build my relationship with and these are the strategies that have worked for me.

Trust is the glue that holds together every long-term client relationship. If your client’s believes that you will act in their best interests and personally uphold the highest standards of integrity and competency, then this builds trusted relationships.

How to Build Trusted Relationships

  1. You must be authentic, your personality is your brand advantage that makes you unique.
  2. Always show compassion in your actions affecting the relationship, be human and understand your client specific circumstances.
  3. Be honest, credible and always act with integrity in line with your client expectations and above all admit to your mistakes.
  4. Always demonstrate that you have the competence to act for the mutual benefit of the relationship.
  5. Be a truly distinctive expert always adding value to the relationship. Clients need people who can help them solve their problems and achieve their objectives.

Every interaction with a client should be treated as an opportunity to monitor and build the relationship. 96% of unhappy customers will not complain, and 91% will simply leave and never return.

It sounds counter intuitive to embrace client complaints, however these complaints give you the opportunity to hear what your clients think about your service. Complaints help you improve and give you a chance to redeem the relationship. How you work through the problem can make your relationship stronger than it was before the complaint.

  • Always remain in regular contact with clients with relevant content.
  • Always follow up with clients after meetings or decisions by phone, email, or social media where appropriate.
  • Always send clients friendly reminders to show progress and commitment.
  • Always remain full engaged with your client and abreast of their industry sector news.
  • Always send blog posts, videos, connections and curated content that will be valuable to your client.

When you practice Inbound Marketing, clients come to you, it is a great tactic to help build client relationships. Achieved by creating valuable content that solves your client’s real-world and relevant problems. It keeps the conversation going by feeding clients useful content and builds stronger relationships. In my article Social Selling Made Easy I talked about the easy relationship building strategies and the powerful benefits of social selling.

4 Stages of B2B Client Relationship Building

  1. Relationship exploration: here you explore the relationship potential to develop a deeper mutually beneficial relationship, characterised by contacts and discussions, qualifying, test-run product or service.
  2. Customised knowledge building characterised by knowledge building of client supply chain, operational processes and their customer relationships to customise your interaction and service delivery options.
  3. Deepening and broadening the relationship to understand the client decision making unit of influencers and stakeholders, promoting a multi-level integrated organisation-wide relationship.
  4. Partnership relationship may develop following several successful project executions this is characterised by disclosure of mutual objectives, shared value and resources.

Relationships are never static, unless a client relationship is moving forwards, it is moving backwards and so creating an opportunity for your competitors to take over the relationship. You can strengthen your client relationships with a focused client relationship building action plan that creates positive outcomes for all parties.

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