It’s a cutthroat world out there when it comes to getting clients, and the same goes for keeping them, too. Forging a great relationship with them is key to sustaining your business base. To keep them coming back to you, here are the top four tips to help you earn your client’s trust.
1. Provide references
When a potential client asks for your references, it can be easy to take offense to the request. No one likes to have their integrity questioned. So how do you avoid that awkward ask? By beating your client to the punch. Here’s an example.
Danielle Egan-Miller is the president of Browne & Miller Literary Associates in Chicago. She has been in the business for more than 25 years and puts several authors on the New York Times Bestsellers List each year. But what’s the one thing she does right before signing a new writer? She offers that writer three references’ phone numbers and email addresses. She invites all of her potential authors to contact them and ask any questions that they wish.
That shows a sure sign of confidence. Sometimes, clients will skip contacting references altogether, as just the transparency and willingness to be open is a good enough sign that you can be trusted.
2. Over communicate
Whether it’s your first project with a new client or just the next project with a client you’ve had a relationship with for years, it’s important to communicate through every aspect and step of the project. Emails should be sent freely and on an ad-hoc basis, but a standing phone call that’s either weekly or bi-weekly is a great way to maintain and build trust. Showing that you are open and proactive by scheduling these calls helps stay abreast of each other’s thoughts and feelings.
3. Zero in on something personal
Building trust with your client starts with building a relationship with your client. Sometimes, that means talking about things other than the task at hand. Try to pick up on something the client mentions in passing – such as an interest, hobby, family dynamic, or favorite food/movie/etc. Then, talk about that (preferably before you start discussing business) on the next call. This shows you were listening, you heard what they said, and you remembered it. Little things like that go a long way to earn your client’s trust!
4. Don’t disappear when the project is over
When the project finally wraps, it’s easy to file everything about it – including your client – away. Even if your client doesn’t have another task for you, don’t let the relationship fizzle. You want to be first on their mind not only when they have work for you, but when their colleagues are looking to hire as well. Ending on a positive note and then staying in touch increases your chance of acquiring more business in the long run. This doesn’t mean you have to become friends on Facebook, but connecting on LinkedIn or sending emails with links to articles that would interest the person are two relevant, professional ways to keep in touch.
Even if you are not an account manager by trade, it’s easier than you think to make the most of your client relationships. What are some of your tried and true ways to stay connected with your network?