Clients: getting up-close and personal

February 22, 2016

Clients: getting up-close and personal

Of all my friends, three of my closest happen to be my former clients. We met through our agency/client working relationship, and our friendships have endured to this day.

When an Account Manager can move their agency/client role beyond being merely an order-taker to ---> advisor ---> co-strategist ---> team member ---> confidante ---> friend, then you know you have hit relationship gold.

Establishing, building and nurturing business relationships requires almost the same input as maintaining personal relationships. One important difference is the need to present an ongoing, high level of professionalism, which will help to establish your credibility as a service provider.

 

How do close relationships begin?

The best way is to start as you mean to continue (first impressions are everything). Try to be your friendly self from day one - not OTT, just enough that your new client knows you are a friendly person, and knows that they can start to relax in your presence.

The trick is for you to help your client feel comfortable and relaxed dealing with you. If a relationship only ever remains on a formal, transactional level you'll have little chance of building future business with this client, or getting to know them well.

 

Keys to success

Here are some keys to building close agency/client relationships:

  • Genuineness. Clients will be able to tell if your friendliness is forced or fake.
  • Trust. Once a client trusts that you can deliver as expected, and do so with a genuine, caring attitude, their level of trust will increase.
  • Integrity. Are you the real deal? Do you do what you say you will do?
  • Caring. Are you in this relationship for every dollar you can get, or do you truly care about getting the best outcome for your client's company and them personally?
  • Interest. How much do you really know about your clients? Take the "Mackay 66™" test and find out!
  • Remembering. How do they like their coffee? What date is their birthday? How did their knee operation go? Remembering the little things will make a big impression.
  • Listening. You hear your client, but are you really listening? By the end of your first project, your client will be able to tell.
  • Communication. Without quality communication all relationships die. Guaranteed.

 

Is there such a thing as getting "too close"?

We all want to build close and strong business relationships with our clients, but how close is too close?

Like any working relationship (colleagues, clients, suppliers) there will be lines that you know you shouldn't cross, but there are no hard and fast rules so you will need to use your own judgement. Can you maintain a high level of professionalism? Will your relationship be misconstrued by any of your colleagues or other clients? As a representative of your agency, can you continue to work - with your client - with impartiality and integrity?

 

Why are close relationships important?

Building close client relationships will inevitably lead to increased and/or regular revenue for your agency. The stronger your client bond the harder it will become for your client to think of working with another agency. Your aim is to be the #1 agency they think of for each new project, and to be the front-runner any time they have to put their account up for a competitive pitch.

People do business with people they like, so all you have to do is be likeable (and genuine, trustworthy, caring, smart, efficient and able to deliver the goods). Boom...relationship gold!

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