Time is such a precious commodity these days that clients need to have a good return on the investment of their time spent with suppliers.
If you are an established sales person then you likely have strong relationships with your clients, and this makes the clients more amenable to spending some of that precious time with you … however (a) you still should not abuse their time and (b) how do you get time with those clients where you don’t have a strong relationship yet?
A client relationship (like any relationship) is built over time and while the intangible factor of the client “liking you” is valuable, you can invest in building the relationship by bringing value and building credibility.
Here are some “valid business reasons” to spend time with a client or prospect, all of which will move the relationship goal a little closer.
Regularly scheduled meeting… pre-agreed “let’s meet weekly/monthly/quarterly to catch up on what’s changed”. This should be your Modus Operandi with any client. As your relationship improves/grows you will be able to shorten these cycles. The ad hoc, let’s “touch base” is NOT a substitute for these.
You are moving through the sales cycle, and have information, answers or even a proposal for the client.
You have something to give them… could be a give-away like a company pen … doesn’t need to be a long meeting, “just a pop in wanted to drop this off & how is everything”! If it turns into more then that is typically a good sign!
Social event, you invite them to lunch, breakfast or some other “out of the office venue”. Can be combined with #1 … but better yet if you can have these meetings as well. Primary reason is relationship building … all about them, but letting them get to know you a little better too.
Social/industry event … you invite your client to join you for an awards dinner, a charity event where you have a company table, an industry golf tournament etc.
You want to introduce your senior management … a Regional exec, visiting CEO etc. Good opportunity to give your client a bigger company picture, to get a feel for the company senior management and for your bosses to get a feel for your client.
You have news … it could be something that is relevant to them. Perhaps an upgrade to a product they own, a coming discount structure, changes in the organization etc.
You have a solution to a business issue for them.
In addition to face to face meetings you can build a relationship in many other ways.
Send them an article of interest.
Congratulate them on their company or personal performance.
Send them a birthday card, a note of thanks, a hand written note if appropriate.
Share your company newsletter.
Share your company news … press releases etc.
Sponsor their charitable endeavors.
All relationships take work … developing a client relationship built on professionalism, credibility and delivering a return for that client’s investment of time is no exception.
The results however are very measurable, you will achieve success in sales, and the client will be well served by a supplier motivated to see them successful.
"Good relationships, whether personal or business, are a result of your investment. The quality of the investment will determine the depth of the relationship."