Things worth building take time, and anything that seems too good to be true probably is. This is the foundation of building meaningful and beneficial client relationships.
Any business that promises fast success is looking for a fast relationship with their client. They’re not seeking to be their partner, but merely to peddle their product to turn them from a lead into a sale. Healthy client relationships look less like a sales pitch and more like a marriage. There’s a lot of communication and healthy feedback involved throughout the entire process. These are the kind of relationships that feel good to experience and hurt when they have to end but were valuable to both parties.
Building a relationship takes time, but it pays off in the long run because both parties are reaching for the same vision; there’s no hidden agenda. This is what repositions a company from a business partner into a trusted advisor.
Jack-of-All-Trades; Master of None
In today’s market, the phrase “it’s an investment” is always thrown around when breaking the news to a client that the process they’re looking for isn’t a quick one. It’s a hard reality to coach around because when a client comes to you, it’s because they’ve finally realized their need, and they’re ready for immediate results. A client has rarely anticipated their own needs far enough in advance to give you the time you’d like to help them accomplish their goal.
Because of their time-bound expectations, quick solutions to their complex problems seem very tempting for them. However, this is counter-intuitive. Naturally, a complex issue is never solved by a simple solution. Any promise of a jack-of-all-trades solution is truly a master of none.
Establishing Realistic Expectations and Accountability
It’s important to make sure your client relationships are a fantastic fit for your organization so that when the day comes to reap the rewards of what you’ve sown, no one is disappointed with the results. This realistic perspective of the return on their investment will temper expectations and keep tense conversations about why results are changing slowly on the back burner. It’s better to over-deliver on your promises than backpedaling when the numbers don’t line up with the bloated estimate you provided to get them in the door. Giving a realistic picture of the engagement with your business is the first step in positioning yourself as a trusted advisor in order to create a long-lasting relationship.
Lead Generation Doesn’t Happen Overnight
“Eat your vegetables, kids.” Mom’s consistent reminders can still be heard ringing in our ears. Regardless of your affinity for broccoli, it’s hard to deny the nutritional benefits of a vegetable over a factory baked snack. Lead generation plays out much of the same way. Organic leads come from long term investment in your digital strategy by adding value through consistent and relevant content. These strategies are slow starters because you’re not paying to get in front of the face of your audience. You’re taking strategic steps to add value to the lives of your audience. You’re generating authority and building trust by waiting in line and proving your worth rather than just paying the doorman to cut to the front.
This is not to say there isn’t value in “paying to win” sometimes through digital advertising, but it isn’t the lasting nutrition your business needs to generate powerful lasting-relationships with clients. It’s way easier to keep the clients you have than it is to find a new one every single time.
Strategy Speaks Louder Than Numbers
“LOSE 60 POUNDS IN 3 DAYS!” These are the promises you hear on late-night television as you’re falling asleep. However, we all know these are Goldielock’s scenarios. That may have happened for someone, but it isn’t the usual case. Framing a whole client relationship around numbers is just setting yourself up for failure. Because the relationship hinges on these finite results, the moment these metrics are not met, trust is broken, and the relationship begins to breakdown. Rather than promising a specific result, promise a strategy. A strategy is a living breathing thing where a result is just a number. Strategies can be tweaked assessed and retweaked to fit the needs of the situation.
Creating this road map for clients builds trust by showing them that you’ve listened to their challenges and concerns in order to create a plan for their success. This is part of taking the journey with your client as a team and reflexively relying on one another by giving each other feedback along the way. This will allow your strategy to grow and evolve under changing circumstances and lead to a relationship that lasts.
Growing Successfully Together
What does it look like to grow with a client? Modern business revolves so much around getting clients in and out the door that the idea of building relationships is viewed as a thing of the past. However, things have come full circle. In a day and age where the internet DOUBLES in size each day, people are reaching for things that are real and genuine.
People want to do business with a brand that not only has a good product but one that they can trust!
Having a human brand that cultivates a strong relationship with a client is what generates longevity that leads to profit for both businesses. This kind of symbiosis is all but required in this digital age where we have to weed through all the junk just to find what’s important.
Talk the Talk
Communication is the foundation of any relationship, whether it is professional or personal. Everyone likes being kept in the loop and knowing what’s going on even if it doesn’t directly pertain to them at the moment.
It’s even more important to communicate setbacks in your strategy even if those lead to tough conversations. This sort of transparency not only builds trust with clients, but it also facilitates healthy collaboration. We never hesitate to tell clients that we will never know their business better than them. And therefore, their involvement and insight are invaluable to us. Getting everything out on the table makes it easier to attack problem areas and chart a path towards a successful strategy. Consistent communication is the lynchpin to successful relationships and can even turn a sterile B2B relationship into a personal one.
Walk the Walk
The final way to secure your position as a trusted advisor with a client is to make what you market. Your client came to you for a reason. If you’re not putting points on the board then your relationship is not going to last very long. This seems like it should be self-explanatory, but it’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to string clients along promising big things and ultimately never delivering.
At the end of the day, your business exists to bring value to people’s lives that no one else can and if you lose your position of trust and integrity, it’s going to be impossible to do so.
Be the Guide, Not the Hero
If you take the time to pour into everything discussed throughout this post, you’ll find yourself in more and more meaningful client relationships that are more potent and last longer.