Building strong relationships with your clients can be difficult, and no entrepreneur wants to put in a great deal of work into establishing a good rapport only to see their client contact or trust decline. Rather than letting relationships fall by the wayside only to have to revive them whenever a clients is in need or services, why not consistently maintain these connections?
Why Is Relationship Maintenance Important in the Business World?
Keeping business relationships alive and well is essential to a successful strategy, and ignoring a client that isn't actively purchasing anything won't help your company grow or receive any more orders. Decision-makers enjoy doing business with companies they have strong connections with, and if your company fails to keep up with all purchasers, it's possible you'll lose their business in the long run to a firm that has put more effort into maintaining a friendly relationship.
Failing to check in with these clients may lose you their business, but it could also cost you referrals. An organization your firm has stopped contact with may not think of your company when asked for a referral, or they may fail to recommend your business because they don't appreciate the lack of communication. When you don't keep up with current - or potential - clients, the impact can be much more extensive than you may have thought. Don't let a simple thing like this permanently tarnish your reputation and hinder your business builder strategies.
The Best Strategies for Maintaining Business Relationships
You now know it's important to maintain relationships with clients, even if they're not currently active. But what are the best ways to stay in touch without being overbearing or obnoxious? If you're unsure of how to guarantee your status with a client doesn't diminish, yet you don't want to overwhelm someone with communication, there are several strategies to employ.
Check in occasionally to see if you can assist. If your business hasn't heard from a client in a while, it may be time to reach out and see if there's anything you can do for them. However, it's important not to drown an inactive client in emails or phone calls asking for business. Instead, send a monthly or bimonthly email or letter that asks if there's any way you can assist. If they respond, handle the inquiry accordingly. If not, it's important not to pester them and risk irritating a client who may need something in the future.
Reply in a timely fashion. If it turns out one of your clients should need something, don't put off dealing with the request. Handle any inquiries immediately to ensure patrons know they can still rely on you for timely and efficient service. If you can't get what's needed right away, send an email or call to let the client know you received the request and will be working on getting the information as quickly as possible. This will guarantee your client knows their question didn't slip through the cracks and they won't reach out to another organization for more prompt assistance.
Remain friendly and personal. When you first establish a relationship with a business partner, you likely try to earn their trust by being friendly and not overly professional. Maintain this attitude even if you haven't heard from a client in a while, just to ensure you don't need to rebuild the relationship all over again. Much like you may invite a prospect out to lunch to discuss business, ask current partners if they'd like to catch up and use the opportunity to stay on friendly terms.
Do clients a favor. You're probably overjoyed when a client or vendor passes more work your way, refers an associate to your company or does something that will benefit your bottom line. Don't be afraid to do the same for your clients, especially those who haven't made a purchase in a few months. Showing a partner you enjoy working with them so much you're willing to refer them to another organization can show them you're interested in a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Similarly, passing along information about a conference in their industry or data about a product they're interested in can ensure clients know your firm is in tune with what they're doing.
Take plenty of notes. When clients mention important events or dates, jot them down, even if they aren't necessarily relevant to projects you're completing. Asking them how their kids are doing or if their ill parents are feeling better will only make sure they know you have their best interests at heart, even if the topics you mention aren't always strictly business related. This can help you maintain a strong and trusting relationship with important clients.