A business is nothing without the customers it serves. Truly great businesses also understand that it is important to foster rapport with clients to ensure that you can do business more than once—the key is to have an ongoing relationship with your client instead of just a one-time business dealing.
Clients can provide your business with so much more than money. Happy clients act as advocates, spreading the good word about a business on their own. If done correctly, you might even find fulfilling, long-term partnerships with some clients.
Here are some vital ways to turn your contacts into clients, and clients into trusted friends/partners.
Networking the right way
You are probably familiar with the idea of networking: connecting with a large group of people (business colleagues, business partners, acquaintances, past and current clients) in the hopes of helping each other in some way. The problem is that sometimes it is easy to forget that networking is a two-way street. If you use your network the right way, you can add value to the connections you make instead of only worrying about the value others give to you.
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Keep in contact
Networking is wonderful, but it must be nurtured to survive past the short-term. No matter how engaging or memorable you are when meeting a contact for the first time, you’ll have to remind them that you exist or inevitably they will forget you. Even if your contact is uninterested in what you have to offer at the current time, that might change—and you’ll be there if it does.
Add value to the relationship: reward your returning customers
As mentioned above, be sure to add value to the relationship. This might be in the form of tangible rewards like coupons, discounts, or free merchandise—or it could be something a bit more abstract like passing along useful information or sending friendly messages about new products, services, or deals that they might be interested in. The goal is to not only receive from your clients, but to give back in the hope that they return the favor. This is crucial because, as many studies have found, returning customers spend more on average than first-time customers.
Care about your clients
Care about your clients as both important business transactions (by providing them the best of your services as possible) and as people. Be honest with them at all times and keep your word: it might seem like a no-brainer, but you are dealing with people, so you should treat them with the respect they deserve. They will appreciate it!
The final step: from client to partner
If you do everything right, you can begin forging a partnership with your clients. They will grow in value for you today and in the future—and you for them. They will add value to the relationship as advocates of your business wherever they go. View this partnership like a great friendship, and you will both be very happy.