Establishing and maintaining good communication is the key to developing long-lasting business relationships. From the very first time you meet a potential client, you are setting the standard for how your client/agency relationship will go. People often forget that these early stages are key in both winning the account and setting it up to be a success. From the first day you meet, through the entire new business pitch and then when you win the account, there are little things you can do that will help you develop the best possible working relationship. Below are a few of my tried and true tips for creating strong business relationships from the start:
What to remember the first time you meet your potential client:
You only get one first impression. Simple but true. From the moment you meet a potential client, they are establishing an opinion of who you are, what you stand for and how well they believe you will treat them. Don’t mess it up – it’s far more difficult to change that perception than it is to expand it as your relationship grows.
- Don’t just talk, listen and listen closely.
- When you do talk, use your words, use them correctly and speak with conviction.
- Don’t make stuff up – you will be found out.
- Dress the part.
What to remember while you're pitching the business:
Now that you’ve gotten in the door, you need to start establishing a level of trust. If the potential client doesn't trust you or feel that you have their best interests at heart, they certainly won’t want to work with you.
- Know who your client is and find ways to connect with them. If you were really listening when you first met, this part should be petty easy.
- Research so you know what you are talking about and can do it with authority and sense of personal connection.
- Be authentic.
- Remember that it’s about the relationship, not the sale – all sales end.
What to remember after you've won the account:
So you’ve won the new account, great. Now comes the real excitement as well as the hard work.
- Maintain the level of attention you established from the start.
- Continuously research and get involved in your clients industry and interests.
- Remember, maintenance doesn’t mean status quo; Push them to progress.
- Stay engaged and be respectful.