When you are beginning a business relationship, it is crucial to know your clients and their business. By building client relationships, you will figure out their business pains faster, which will allow you to work effectively for them.
In banking, there is a term referred to as KYC, which stands for, Know Your Customer. It is used for verifying a customer’s identity for compliance purposes. We believe the term can also be applied to client relationships.
Before you make initial contact with a prospective client, do your research! This way, you can have the confidence and knowledge needed in your initial conversations – this may mean picking up industry-specific jargon if necessary. It will also show you appreciate their business and leave a positive first impression. A great way to start a conversation is by mentioning a mutual connection that referred you to them; it gives a sense of familiarity. Part of getting to know your clients is learning about them as people. For example, what form of communication do they prefer? Email or phone? Holding a meeting and asking these questions gives you a better feel for who they are and their business.
2. Keep the lines of communications open & frequent
Check-in meetings are a great way to keep the lines of communication open. They create accountability, allow for feedback, and set clear expectations.
Setting clear expectations means being honest with yourself and the client about the work expected. An easy way to do this is to set timelines and strategies that you both feel are manageable. Remember, relationships are a two-way street. Just as you need to be held accountable, so does your client. What do you need from them to succeed? Be explicit with your client about what that looks like; drafting a formal document on these expectations keeps everyone accountable. Allowing clients to report feedback consistently improves the way you work. Deliberately asking them how everything is going shows your client you value them. When feedback is respected and shared freely, it creates trust, the foundation for successful long-term partnerships.
3. Fostering that relationship
During social distancing, maintaining client relationships may seem harder, but it does not have to be. It is up to you to adapt to the COVID-era of business. You may be used to having in-person meetings or even client lunches. Until we can resume “normal” living, finding other means to keep these connections is what will determine your success post-COVID. With so many technology tools at our disposal, there is no reason why you cannot have virtual check-ins, meetings, conferences or events.
Right now, it is critical to show the client your value to them. Broad industry knowledge and being a resource to them during the pandemic are two of the top things you can do. Just remember to KYC by openly communicating and fostering those business relationships.