Many sales people brag about their connections in driving their business success. Connections are essential but a mega-data base and a wide social media network aren’t the same as the ability to build rock-solid relationships with clients.
I’ve been thinking about the nature of relationships recently, as I completed lease transactions for several long-term clients this year. I’ve worked with these companies for many years, some for over two decades, to evaluate their office space needs, help them understand market conditions and opportunities, and then work with their landlord to extend the lease or relocate their business to a building that better fits their objectives. I appreciate that they continue to seek my opinion and counsel, and work to earn their business year after year.
The pursuit of “relationships” over “transactions” is a deeply held value at Melvin Mark, thanks to the leadership of Melvin “Pete” Mark. His philosophy is simple: relationships are not built over collecting business cards, but come about over time, and can result in lasting business partnerships and personal friendships.
Building a relationship is purposeful but it is also organic and it doesn’t happen without thought or effort. No matter what your business, relationship-building starts with these four ideas:
- Professionalism. Your client’s needs come before yours. Transparency is important, as are honesty and integrity. Show your client they can trust you to watch out for their best interests.
- Attention to detail. Managing and paying attention to all the details is a key component of your job. As a consultant, your job is to understand all the issues, address them, and follow through. Your client counts on you to think about factors they haven’t considered.
- Clear communication skills. When working with clients, there’s no such thing as too much communication. Learn how and how often your client needs to receive information and maintain a disciplined schedule to keep them up to date on all aspects of the project.
- Customer service. Your clients are busy doing their own job. Make sure you’re doing yours so they can be focused on theirs.
More than anything, I’ve learned that long-term relationships are built on two simple concepts: I treat every client as my most important client. While major wins might get the most media attention, your client will always appreciate the high value you place on their business. Second, I work at keeping my connections fresh and relevant. If you do the same, you’ll continue to earn your client’s loyalty and business.