4 fundamentals for building valuable client relationships

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  • August 26, 2014
Sophie Gilrain

Sophie Gilrain

Account Manager

If you read my last post, you’ll hopefully have remembered the key takeaway, which was that great business is all about great relationships.

Recently, I read a great book which develops on the points I’ve previously mentioned with tips on HOW to build and grow those relationships. The book, ‘Power Relationships’ by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas really resonated with me; not only in a professional sense but also in life in general and the relationships we develop every day with friends, family and the people around us.

I’ve shared my favourite takeaways with you below and I hope they help you in forming and growing mutually beneficial relationships at work and at home:

1. Great conversations

“Power relationships are built on great conversations, not one person showing the other how much they know.”  The facts and figures may be an important part of our day-to-day work, but over-sharing such information won’t take you to the highest level of relationship building.

Learn about what your clients value through the art of conversation – listen to their challenges.  A CEO at another agency I previously worked at used to say, “You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.” Listening and learning doesn’t compromise your position as the ‘expert’, it allows you to empathise and ask thoughtful questions about what they just said.

So the next time you turn up to a two-hour meeting with three-quarters of it taken up by a mammoth PowerPoint presentation full of charts and numbers – know your client. They might just respond better to a coffee and a downright honest two-way conversation.

2. What’s the agenda?

When developing a power relationship, the first building block should always be to know your client’s agenda. Do you know what their main challenges are, what pressures they’re under, and what’s really important to them right now?

Once you know this, you can work towards helping them accomplish it, but you must always start with theirs, not yours. Following on from the above point about how important it is to listen and learn, continue by asking yourself, ‘How can I help?’. Make a point of understanding what’s going on in their world and walking in their shoes – we all know our own challenges can often consume us, so make a point of trying to relate.

Pushing your own agenda (likely to be far less relevant to the client at that particular time) definitely won’t be helping, nor will it earn you any fans.

3. Treat prospects like they’re already a valued client; eventually, they might become one

Relationship building is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and a lot of effort to gain trust and respect but is worth playing the long game. If we treat prospects like we treat our existing clients, by keeping regular friendly contact and offering market insight and new ideas whilst always avoiding a ‘hard sell’, a great future relationship could be taking course.

Invest to get to know a prospect’s business. They’ll appreciate your insight and persistence and maybe one day you could be talking about doing business together.

4. Integrity is everything

Be truthful. Follow through. If you make a mistake, own up – all things we’ve heard a thousand times before. But not only are these small life tips important, they’re everything when it comes to maintaining strong relationships and building upon trust in business. Sobel says, “You can’t believe the message if you don’t trust the messenger.”

Develop a reputation for integrity, and it will become the anchor for all of your successful relationships.

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