Top tips no 5: Building client relationships

Your client relationships are a key way to build your business.

How do you start new client relationships?

Here are ten steps to design a client relationship building initiative:

 

Envisage the types of relationship you want to have: Picture your most successful, enjoyable client relationship. What makes it so? What would you add to it to make it just that bit better?

Who are you going to contact? Start with the individual and then their role and then their business and then the sector. When you have a list, take a look and see what they all have in common. What are their themes? What unites them? And what connects you to them and their themes?

Why? Why do you want a relationship with this person, their business, their sector? Putting income to one side, what matters to you about working with this person, their company, the sector? Why them? Why now? Now look at your answers and imagine saying it to your client.

What will you say? What is your interest in this person? Their role? Their business? Their sector? What matters to you about working with them? Write this down. Expressing yourself in writing is a very effective way of getting clear on your thoughts around a subject.

How will you say it? Rehearse it. Set up a room and have three chairs. One is for you, one is for your client and the other is for an observer. Explain to your client, your thoughts from 3. The person playing the client responds as if they were your client. The observer watches and listens. After 5 minutes, ask the observer what they noticed. Then the client says what they experienced and finally you feedback.

Where will you say it? Where are you going to start the relationship: will it be over email, or by phone? Or at an event? Or perhaps in an online discussion. Or a combination? Where will it be best to start the relationship?

When will it happen? What time within your working day are you going to allocate to this? Most client relationship drives fail because of inconsistency. How will you organise your time so that you maintain your commitment? What can you delegate to others and what could you drop altogether and replace with client relationship building efforts?

Become aware: Study and note what is happening as you try to grow your relationships. What is happening? Is that different or the same as before. And is it what you want? If not, what will you do differently?

Measure what’s happening: How will you know if what you’re doing is working? What are your measures? Have a wide range of measures. You could include numbers based methods such as connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter, new conversations, new meetings and of course new work. You could also have new learnings. What are you learning and how will you use it?

What works currently? Take a look at your existing clients: How did these relationships start? See if you can uncover the journey and then ask yourself how you could replicate it.

I hope these are useful. Are you trying to build new client relationships? I’d be pleased to hear from you with questions or your experiences. Do get in touch.