Once you get past those initial jitters, it’s then up to you to make the magic happen
David Carter is the founder of Clockwork, an online integrated agency providing startups access to the best independent marketers, designers, coders, and copywriters in the world – 24/7. He’s got over 10 years industry experience in the design, marketing and PR.
A first meeting or conversation with your client can sometimes feel like a first date. You may have sweat pouring down your back, heart racing and you’ve formed a stutter you never knew you had. Or it could swing the other way and they’re as flat as Justin Bieber’s personality. Many people go through this and it’s always hard to overcome these initial fears even with years of experience.
I’ve dealt with thousands of different clients through my working career and always found that the human side of client management can be the most challenging. It doesn’t really matter what your product or service is because half the battle always comes down to trust. But don’t threat — here are some techniques to help break down some of those social walls with your clients and build trust.
1: Treat them like Royalty
“A Royal Visit is happening guys — get ready and know your lines” was the usual blurb our Creative Director would dictate when we had a client visiting us. A client would be ushered around the studio and presented to a number of colleagues usually followed by tea and biscuits and an open conversation about future work.
First impressions and reputation count so showing your organization in the best light possible should be key. Don’t be afraid to make a big deal out of your meetings even if your client is small — because word travels. Get everyone in your company on board and hold off on the liquor until your client has been bedded in as you never know what you or your colleagues may say.
2: I’m listening
Research suggests that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words during the course of a 24-hour period. For people in business, it can be a lot more. And most people usually only remember about 17 to 25 percent of the things they listen to. So listening to exactly what your clients say should take precedence.
It’s amazes me the amount of client managers who talk over their clients. Obviously, you don’t want to just sit there but reeling off your industry knowledge can isolate the client and set you off on the wrong foot. Half the time the client is unsure of what they actually want and it’s your job to find out what that is.
Before any meeting make sure you read as much about your client’s industry and what they’ve been up to through their blogs and social media. Tools like Owler, a business insights platform is great for initial meetings and your preparation process.
In the meeting, I find that repeating what you’ve heard back helps slow the conversation down and provides some breathing room. And the most importantly — a note pad and pen!
3: Be proactive, not reactive
You may be lucky and have clients who hand you briefs on a silver platter. But there will be times when things start to dry up. When this happens it’s time to stop everything and evaluate your opportunities. You need to get creative!
Most clients are happy that you reach out to them — in fact, 87% of customers want to be contacted proactively when it comes to customer service. You don’t want to spam your clients but you do want to add value. Maybe offer your clients something that only you can provide — such as free templates, a networking event or a consultancy webinar with Q&A. This will help your current clients re-engage and it’s a resource for any new potential leads.
4: Stay connected
Keeping connected with your client will help your relationship blossom. You can do this by setting up an alerts with tools such as Google Alerts or Mention, helping you understand what’s being said about your clients. These tools also provide opportunities for you to connect with your clients and offer strategic advice based on their recent activity.
You can also show your clients some PR love by interviewing them and creating content off the back of it. This could be used for your own blog — or if it’s really good, pitch it to industry publications and help build your clients social proof.
5: Judging always creates separation
Meeting all clients can come with certain judgements — and this usually sets the tone of your relationship. The more meetings you have the more you’ll be able to gauge the relationship. If you’ve negatively judged your client from the start then the chances are they will mirror that negativity back at you — and you’ll be ditched. Therefore, honesty and openness with everyone can really help you and your client move forward hopefully for years to come.