One of the top challenges for freelancers, consultants and entrepreneurs is finding and keeping good customers. Growing a strong customer base can help you improve profitability and achieve your business goals. To build successful client relationships that will last, you’ll want to make sure that you start out right.
Building a solid foundation with your client begins with the first interaction. You need to develop customer interest and develop rapport. These are important initial steps that will help you establish value with your customer.
Imagine that you have the opportunity to meet a potential new client face-to-face. Before the meeting, you should think about what you will do and say. After the introductions and the small talk, what’s next? Here are some tips:
1. Link the purpose of your meeting to a benefit for the customer.
Example: “I’m here today to introduce you to a unique solution that will save you time and money.”
2. Identify something you already know is important to the customer and briefly describe how you can help them with it.
Example: “I know it’s important that the implementation happens prior to the end of year to meet your goals: our project plan will accomplish that.”
3. State the value there is in the customer’s spending time with you.
Example: “I have some ideas I’d like to share with you during our meeting that can be put into action immediately to help you accomplish those tasks.”
4. Build value by demonstrating knowledge of the business issues that matter to the customer.
Example: “I know that financing costs have gone up dramatically in your industry. I’d like to discuss how our solution can help in this economic environment.”
5. Connect on an individual level; hear the feelings and concerns behind the words.
Example: “Just to clarify: is your primary concern that there would not be enough time between events, and that would make it difficult for you and your staff?”
What if your first substantial interaction with the customer is not face-to-face, but through email, text, phone call, or social media? Nothing really changes; you still need to develop customer interest and establish rapport. It is arguably just as important, if not more so, to plan ahead and to think about how you establish value when you are not meeting face-to-face. People are busy and wasting time won’t impress a potential new customer.
How you begin with a client matters; it lays the groundwork for what comes next. To start out right, think ahead about how you will begin to establish value and build a foundation for a profitable, long-term relationship.