Our world has detached itself from traditional sales thinking. Sales are closed based on relationships. And now, more than ever, client relationships are the heart of business, because people prefer to do business with companies they can trust.
It’s no secret that the AV industry is relationship-driven. There are online groups for various niches in our industry and local chapters for different industry programs. Attend a trade show and you’ll notice how many manufacturers are hosting events to nurture their relationships with customers, clients and business partners, even after the show floor closes.
Relationship building takes time and effort. A relationship won’t happen overnight, but we’re sharing a few of our tried-and-true tips for building strong, authentic relationships with clients:
- Do your research. Invest the time to learn more about the client by visiting their website, understanding their products and/or services, and connecting with them on LinkedIn.
- Respect people’s time. Don’t you wish there were more hours in a day? You’re not the only one. Be respectful of your clients’ time by arriving on time for meetings and being prepared to discuss the items on the agenda.
- Treat every client as your most important one. Take the time to get to know them. Letting your conversations get personal doesn’t have to be intrusive, but sharing anecdotes or fun facts can establish a more open line of communication.
- Become a trusted partner. Position yourself or your company as a strategic advisor to your client by advising them on matters outside your hired work. This is not to be confused with offering unsolicited opinions, but if your client is asking for a second opinion, offer to help.
- Listen! Ask your client open-ended questions and listen to the responses. “I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships” by Michael S. Sorensen is a quick yet insightful read to help improve everyday conversations. Bonus: the book is free for Amazon Prime members!
- Put the client first. Even if it’s not easy, be honest and upfront with your client. While it might not benefit you at the time, giving your client honest advice will help you in the long run when they are looking for a trusted advisor.
- Be upbeat —it’s contagious. A positive attitude achieves positive results. Your client will appreciate your attitude, too.
- Ask for feedback. We’re not perfect, and to better provide for our clients, we need to understand our weaknesses and how we can improve. Asking a client for feedback isn’t a sign of weakness; it shows your commitment to providing them with the best service possible.
A positive client relationship is a crucial component to a long, prosperous partnership. And, like any relationship, it won’t grow unless you put forth the effort.