In the current virtual work environment, it can be difficult for businesses to attract clients. With tighter budgets, fewer events and limited in-person meetings, many companies have struggled to sign new business.
If this is the case for you, it’s wise to turn your focus to strengthening relationships with your existing clients. Below, 15 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their advice for how companies can bolster and scale their client relationships so they can emerge even stronger after the pandemic.
1. Check in regularly.
Staying in touch can help renew the bond with an existing customer. It can be as focused on sending an article relating to their business or as general as asking, “How’s business?” We tend to take current clients for granted as we chase new ones. – Matthew Ross, Ventures Marketing Group
2. Empathize and be flexible.
Many of our clients have been very grateful for our flexible and bespoke approach, and this creates loyalty and trust. Listen, be open and stand in your clients’ shoes to understand what they need during these times. Where possible, innovate products to help them – Joanna Swash, Moneypenny
3. Share helpful information to support their business.
Everyone is looking for information that supports well-informed decisions and solves problems. This includes your current clients and partners. Approach these current relationships from a personal perspective. Aim to share helpful information, trends and solutions they might not be aware of. This will strengthen the relationship for the long term. – Jarod Latch, Spiracle Media
4. Be ‘all-in’ for your clients’ success.
Help your clients grow and be “all-in” for their success. We have often looked for opportunities to introduce clients who may be able to work together or learn from each other. We also help our clients find key people from our network when they are unable to find them on their own. Doing things like this for your clients will almost always result in future opportunities for your organization. – Matt Rosen, Allata
5. Bring all your team members’ talents to the table.
Developing deeper business relationships with existing clients can sometimes be as simple and straightforward as introducing them to other talents within your company. Offer to bring in a team member whom they’ve not met to help brainstorm a solution or provide a new, arms-length perspective on an issue troubling the client’s leadership. This builds goodwill while showcasing your capabilities and the personalities on your team. – Lisa Anne Thompson Taylor, Board Veritas
6. Be available as and when they need you.
It’s more important than ever to remain flexible and to remember clients are people too. While they’re balancing work, they also have home lives and other responsibilities. Being available for ad hoc requests or to answer questions or being willing to change meeting times and deliverables at the last minute will make a long-lasting impression, allowing for stronger client-vendor relationships. – William Balderaz, Futurety
7. Invest time in learning about your clients and the market.
Keep delivering value. Listen carefully to current clients and employees. True strength comes from understanding the market, your clients and your capabilities, as well as how these pieces fit together. Spending time learning more about your current clients is valuable work. – Joy Frestedt, Frestedt Incorporated
8. Treat legacy clients like you’re trying to win their business.
Do not allow complacency. Think about what a competitor could offer a client in a bid to win their business, and then be the first to offer that to them. By striving to be the best-in-class in your industry, you strengthen existing relationships, which serves as a barrier to entry to your competitors. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company
9. Remain engaged and keep them updated.
Even at the peak of the crisis and with limited operations, customer-first businesses stayed engaged with their customers and clients. Beyond merely “selling,” update customers on the status of your company, and offer content that caters to their specific needs. Communicate through several channels, such as via video chats, by phone, and through digital content and social media. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
10. Build a ‘Wow!’ campaign.
Do some research into personal touches that will make a big difference for individual clients, and make this a unique marketing channel. We support philanthropy with some clients and have wine tastings with others. We engage on a personal as well as a professional level. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
11. Be obsessed with customer service.
Having an obsession with customer service and bringing value to each and every one of your existing clients is all it takes. Communicating frequently with your clients — even if it is just to see how they are doing — goes a long way. – Theodore A. Spaulding, Spaulding Injury Law
12. Be a good listener.
All clients and their situations are unique. We’ve all been in the position where we felt like our message was not getting through. Clients in this position feel unable to communicate — this alone will put a halt to relationship growth. Don’t jump to solutions before truly understanding the problems. – Chris Friel, VoDaVi Technologies
13. Keep your finger on the pulse of the relationship.
To strengthen relationships with existing clients, I’ve found a two-layered approach works well. At the top layer, I regularly sit in on client calls and am copied on major client communications so I can keep a beat on the quality of the relationship. The second layer includes biannual client check-ins to ensure that they are happy and we’ve identified all the possible ways to delight. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
14. Seek to understand the current state of their business.
Now more than ever, it’s important to ask questions to understand clients’ businesses. By focusing on effective communication and tuning in to your customer, you can continue growing the partnership, no matter what challenges the current world is facing. Try conducting a SWOT analysis for your client. Create recommendations based on your interpretations to help them improve their business. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
15. Thank them for their continued business.
Strong relationships with clients are the foundation of all successful businesses. Often something as simple as a handwritten card thanking a client for their business can make the biggest difference. – Matt Haiker, Q Consulting