As a B2B business that supports other B2B businesses, we understand the value of strong client relationships. Much like other relationships, the value can increase over time, offering financial benefits through referrals and upselling. If handled correctly, these relationships can also be mutually beneficial to both parties.
Here's how to create strong client relationships and reap long-term benefits.
How to Set up for Relationship Success
We've often written that business relationships are similar to dating and marriage. The sales process is like dating, so it's important to make a great first impression. It's also important for both parties to set boundaries, learn to trust each other and determine if there's a good fit with no red flags. If the start of the relationship is good, with agreement on communication, goals and responsibilities, then there's a solid foundation for a long-term relationship.
How to Build Long Term Client Relationships
Once the dating/honeymoon is over, the hard work begins. Now is when your relationship will be challenged, facing unforeseen obstacles and issues that can make or break how you'll move forward. Use this time period to have those difficult conversations such as:
- Check in to make sure you're fulfilling all that was promised by sales
- Discuss any outstanding assumptions that need to be addressed
- Firm up boundaries and stop scope creep
- Address any unmet expectations
This can be the best time of any long-term relationship because these challenges and difficult conversations will improve trust and respect.
The Benefits of Strong Client Relationships
With a solid foundation, open two-way communication and effective goal-setting, these clients can become long-term champions of your brand. These relationships can offer:
- Consistent income and work
- Lower marketing costs
- Reduced likelihood of late payments
Yes, it's true. If your client relationship has a long-term foundation of trust, communication and respect, your cash flow can benefit. Marketing to new clients costs more but if you have a client partner who believes in what you do, they'll likely send referrals your way and remember you when writing their accounts payable checks. Take the time to show your value to your clients and value their relationships in return.