Relationships. They are the foundation for successful business growth and, here at MEG, they are something we both value and build. But what does creating a healthy relationship with your clients involve?
This was the subject of our most recent roundtable discussion.
Aspiring to Work Closely with Clients
According to Vice magazine, the average millennial relationship for someone in their twenties lasts 4.2 years. These years may not always be consecutive though, with 60% of 20 year olds saying they have had at least one on-off relationship.
This can happen in business, where your clients disappear only to resurface later.
But the aspiration many B2B enterprises have is to build relationships that are consistent, working in close partnership with clients.
Is this aspiration realistic?
It depends as much on the client as it does on the service provider.
For some clients, they will only contact a business reactively, when there is a problem they need fixing.
Whereas, for you to achieve an advisory status, the ideal model is to be more proactive, so that the client considers getting your viewpoint and assistance in advance of any decision-making.
Aim to be high on the checklist when it comes to advice and guidance.
Becoming a Ready Resource
To be seen as a client’s ready resource requires a large degree of patient relationship-building.
It means getting to know the client well, and sharing something of yourself. Get to know their industry well and what their issues and pain points are.
It’s not about being an expert in their world, but displaying sufficient knowledge and empathy to resonate with them.
There should be some careful and strategic onboarding, because there is no short-cut to building strong relationships.
Can client relationships cross the line into friendship? There’s no reason why this should not happen, but from a business perspective, you need to maintain a clear understanding of what is billable.
However, clients will remember when you put the extra effort in, and when you are there when they need you.
Without solid relationship-building, the risk is that you can only differentiate yourself by price, and what you offer becomes more like a production line.
To do your best work, you need your clients and prospects to understand what you can do for them.
It is also important to consider what room for manoeuvre you have to take on new work and different clients.
How do you strike the right balance between close relationships and becoming over-dependent on a small number of clients?
In this, when some relationships run their course, it can be a good thing, providing you are exercising control and choosing to move on.
Building Relationships Through MEG
At MEG we provide a business networking space where we aim to be relatable, in an environment that is both relaxed and playful. Building strong relationships doesn’t have to be narrowly focused on offering opportunities or bringing referrals to the table.