You may be a small business owner or just an employee working for one. However, your clients are the lifeblood of your business and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and care. Quite obviously, with no clients, you wouldn’t have a company at all! Having many clients may seem the ultimate goal for any business owner or employee today (and it is). Nevertheless, these people are what makes everything work — including our livelihoods. We therefore need to put in extra effort when it comes to building strong relationships with clients. Here are some easy ways we can do just that:
1 Learn to recognize the truth about bad clients
Recognizing bad clients isn’t the same as enjoying them. I don’t enjoy all of my clients, but they are all good for me in some way. ‘Bad clients’ can be a great source of income, experience, and networking opportunities. Even if you don’t like a particular client, there are still ways in which they can help you grow your business or brand.
2 Don’t settle for less than you deserve
Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Clients may try to take advantage of your eagerness and willingness to work with them. However, don’t allow this. Stand up for yourself as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down or say no if necessary. If clients are asking you to do something that doesn’t make sense or isn’t within the scope of what they hired you for in the first place, speak up! Don’t let clients walk all over you just because they hired you—if anything, this should give them a bit more respect for your abilities as a professional designer. It is not only difficult to be noticed in this competitive industry. It is also difficult to maintain client relationships over time despite quality workmanship that meets their expectations every time.
3 Be an active listener
Listening is a skill that can be learned. Being an active listener means more than simply hearing what the other person is saying. It’s about listening fully, and understanding what they are truly trying to say, as opposed to simply hearing their words. When you actively listen, you learn more about the client’s needs and interests. You can use active listening as a way of building trust and rapport with clients. You can demonstrate your interest in their situation, while also helping them feel confident discussing their problems with you.
4 Set limits and stick to them
When working with clients, you should set limits on the amount of time you will spend on a project. This can help keep you focused and accountable for your work. Sticking to these limits will also help you avoid taking on too much work and becoming overwhelmed.
You should always stick to your limits! If not, you may end up spending way too much time working on one particular project or task—and find yourself unable to complete other tasks in a timely manner.
5 Learn how and when to say no
Learn to say no. You may be tempted to take on every project that comes your way; however, learning how and when to say no is an important skill. Your clients will appreciate it if you create a schedule of projects so they can see where their money is going and what the future has in store for them. Say no when something isn’t worth your time or energy. There are many requests that come across our desks that we could do gratis, but why would we want to? If we’re not being paid for something, then it’s likely not worth our time or effort (or both).
6 Develop rapport with your clients
Developing and maintaining rapport is one of the most important skills you can have as a salesperson. When your clients feel that they can relate to you, they’re more likely to trust you and want to work with you in the future. Here are some ways of developing rapport:
- Express interest in what your client cares about (and don’t be afraid to show it).
- Ask questions about their interests and concerns—this shows that you care enough about them as people that it’s worth asking specific information about them, not just offering generic statements about how great everything is going for them right now.
- Show empathy for their feelings by acknowledging them (e.g., “That must be frustrating”).
Here are some ways of maintaining rapport:
- Always make sure that any feedback or criticism delivered by a colleague or manager is delivered respectfully—if there are issues with someone else’s performance at work, this should never come across as an attack on their character; instead, use language like “I think we may need some help here” rather than “You’ve been messing up lately.”
7 Always come prepared for meetings, calls, and projects with your client
Having everything organized and ready to go will ensure that you keep everything on track. You should also be on time or early when meeting in person. This will show that you are serious about the project, which can lead to more business from the client. Make sure that any documents necessary are printed out well in advance so that there is no delay in getting started. Always have a backup plan should anything go wrong during the meeting or call − for instance, should there be low battery power on either end of the line. Being flexible is essential when working with clients. Sometimes without a warning, clients may change their minds about something (it happens). However, you should still not compromise on your core values as an individual or company, just because someone else wants something different than what was originally agreed upon by all parties involved.
8 Be available to your clients, but not too available!
- Don’t overbook yourself. Know how many clients you can handle and turn down new ones when necessary.
- Be available to your clients, but not too available! Part of building and maintaining client relationships is being accessible and easy to contact. However, don’t take on more than you can handle, or else you risk under-delivering on their expectations.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to new projects if they’re taking up too much of your time or resources right now. You might regret it later when clients come back asking for assistance again. These clients may have been turned away by someone else who could provide them with higher quality assistance. There is nothing wrong with rejecting a project it isn’t worth the effort of completing it properly! It doesn’t make sense for either party should one party deliver less than stellar work. This could be simply because they don’t have anything else going on in their lives at that moment (because then neither do any other projects).
9 Be transparent in everything you do with your clients
Being transparent in everything you do with your clients — even if they don’t ask you to be — is vital. Transparency builds trust and respect − two key ingredients for any relationship. Trust is an essential part of any business relationship. Trust must be earned over time by being open and authentic with your clients. If they see that you‘re not hiding anything from them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes, they’ll feel confident to work with you. They will then start viewing you as an ally rather than a competitor.
10 Make sure you are on the same page in terms of goals
Make sure you are on the same page in terms of goals, expectations, and what you can deliver at all times. There should never be any surprises later on. Such could cause serious problems in both the short and long term for your business relationship. You should also consider having a clear agreement with your client about the roles each party will play in achieving these goals. For example, one party may be responsible for creating marketing materials (such as advertisements). They should not be held accountable if they do not receive any client feedback on whether those materials were successful − this would be outside the scope of their responsibility.
Clients are valuable assets that deserve much respect and time from their employees; we should treat them well because they are the lifeblood of any company!
Understandably, every client is an asset. Clients account for the prosperity of any business; they deserve a great deal of respect and time from their employees. As you’re building your client relationships, you should bear in mind how valuable clients are. If your clients are unhappy with the service provided by your company, there will be no one to build effective sales strategies for − those clients won‘t be willing to buy anything from you!
If you want to be successful in business, it’s crucial to build strong relationships with your clients. These tips should help you get onto the right track, one in which you lay a strong foundation for future success.