So, how do you build relationships with new clients?
By getting back to business basics.
Let me give you an example of what I mean by that statement. Do you remember going to the local grocery store with your parents back when you were a child? The man behind the counter at the meat section always seemed to know your mother’s (or father’s) name, and that they always wanted a sirloin roast, around 5 pounds, every second Friday. Or the operator of the corner bakery always knew that your mother didn’t like her bread pre-sliced – she wanted it left intact so she could cut it later at home. In that era, you knew that your patronage was valued – YOU mattered to the owner and they took concrete steps to ensure that you kept doing business with them.
People don’t do business with the ‘name’ on the door. They do business with YOU – another live, human being, and to succeed you need to incorporate “R&R” – respect & responsibility, into your interactions with others. Your own core values need to come across clearly in every aspect of your business, whether it is from the moment you pick up the phone and say “Hello! This is Cookie speaking. How can I help you today?” to ensuring that when you make promises to the customer, you deliver on time, every time. They care whether their needs are being met and that they can trust you to give them the best bang for their hard-earned buck.
Which leads me to ask you this question: Are your actions matching your values?
Here are what I believe to be the 3 key elements to running a successful and service-based business:
1. Honesty. As a consumer yourself, I know you want to deal with people who are up front about their product/service. Are you doing the same with your clients? Do you tell them exactly what you are capable of bringing to the table, or do you ‘snow’ them with empty promises that you know you won’t be able to deliver on? Yes, sometimes being totally honest means you may have to let a potential client go elsewhere, but I can guarantee you that they’ll remember you for being upfront and honest with them. And guess what? Perhaps when they do have a need for what you provide, they’ll remember YOUR name because you told them the truth. Period.
2. Trust. Have you ever walked away from doing business with a company simply because you had a gut feeling that you couldn’t trust a word they were saying? I know I have because I can’t do business with someone I don’t feel comfortable with. It is inconsistent with my core values. Fostering trust is a huge plus in my books. Do you ‘walk your talk’ or are you full of hot air? Bluffing your way through a sales pitch is a dead giveaway that you don’t trust your own product/service enough to look people in the eye and be able to sell yourself and product convincingly. If you don’t have your client’s trust, they’ll move on to someone who they can work with without worrying they’re being taken advantage of.
3. Value. Do you really appreciate your clients and for that matter, members of your own team? If so, do you tell them how pleased you are that they’re doing business with you? When was the last time you sat your team down and told them that without their contribution to your business, the company wouldn’t be as flourishing as it is today? How often have you genuinely thanked your clients for being part of your success? Better yet, when was the last time you asked your clients how you can serve them better? Two simple words used often and sincerely can go a long way to establishing your reputation as someone worthy of conducting business with, and those two words are “Thank you.” Say them often and mean it!
If you follow these three small steps and incorporate them into your everyday business life, I can guarantee you that your customers will remain loyal to your business and you.