Education

Grow Your Business Through Client Relationships

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By Victoria Munro and Dave Block

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — People choose to do business with those they know, like and trust. Business owners who’ve worked in the corporate world often find it challenging to adjust to the reality that small business is built on relationships. Studies reveal that the majority of customers leave not because of problems with services or products, but because of perceived indifference. Plan to build and nurture great client relationships to grow your business – and here are some tips for getting there:

Clearly define your ideal clients, then study to understand their industry or profession and the challenges they face, especially the possible problems that your service or products solve.

It’s difficult to build good relationships over the phone and email, so arrange times when you can meet face to face with current and potential clients.

Take time to talk with your current clients, ask questions, listen and learn from them about their needs and frustrations. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to help them and advance their interests whenever you can.

Clients who know and trust you are much more likely to recommend your services or products to others. Ask for referrals.

View complaints as opportunities to position yourself as a candid, committed problem- solver. Research shows that when customers have a problem with a company and have that problem spectacularly solved, they become more loyal to the company than customers who never experienced a problem. Time and energy spent solving a client’s problem reaffirms and strengthens the relationship and any trust that was broken.

Keep in touch regularly via newsletters (print or electronic), calls, emails, notes, letters and “Raving Fan Celebrations.” If you don’t already have contact resource management (CRM) software, such as ACT, Gold Mine or Maximizer, consider investing in one, and keep it current.

Employ the power of personal, handwritten notes to say thank you, emails to share something that will be of genuine value to them, or just to let them know that you appreciate and value their business and their friendship.

Learn about what is important to them — their families, favorite sports teams or hobbies — and remember to ask about them. Focus on what matters most to them.

Look to the future and build long-term relationships with your current clients, then turn them into loyal fans. This won’t happen overnight, but it will yield big dividends.

Always, always, always be sincere. Be real, authentic and true to who you are.

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. 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.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.