We recently lost a contract after our client experienced an extremely tough fiscal cycle and had to make draconian budget cuts. They had to lay off teachers, cut salaries and reduce employee benefits. And — despite the value they placed on our work — they had to sever our relationship as well.
After delivering the disappointing news about being unable to renew our contract, my point of contact asked me if I would still text her from time to time to stay in touch.
When the CEO of our company heard that story, he asked me to share tips on building relationships that transcend the typical client/vendor dynamic.
Here are a few ways I build good rapport with my clients.
1). I share information about myself so my clients get to know me as more than a K12 Insight Relationship Manager. For instance, instead of saying that I need to leave at5 p.m., I’ll provide some personal details about my life such as, “I have to leave early tonight to catch my daughter’s last volleyball game.”
Once I told a client that I was about to spend the weekend with my five sisters to — hopefully — amicably distribute the houseful of belongings my mom no longer needed. That client, I learned, had recently gone through a similar experience and provided me with some very good suggestions about how to approach the situation.
Sharing personal information helps me build trust with a client and makes her or him feel comfortable enough to do the same.
2.) In addition to sharing experiences from my life, I genuinely want to know more about my clients than just their role within the school district. I’ve found that when I ask people about their interests or their family, they become more animated, and our bond grows tighter. To emphasize that I’m listening and sincerely care, I ask additional questions to continue the conversation.
Clients have shared photos of their child’s homecoming dress, new grandchildren and even pictures of their pets. That’s how you know you’ve made a friend.
3.) Although email is a useful way to get a lot of work done, it’s not conducive to building a relationship. That’s why I choose to pick up the phone a lot; it’s easier for me to convey a pleasant personality and happy attitude.
In short, who wouldn’t rather do business with someone they like, trust and respect? I believe the personal connections I forge with clients go a long way toward building stronger business relationships. So, whether the relationship is new or in a period of transition, be sure to make an honest and genuine effort to stay in touch.