I was asked recently by a long-time friend how our organization has been able to establish such a loyal client base. A significant portion of our business is comprised of repeat customers – what we call serial clients. As clients are acquired and contacts move on, many come back to Connect. In truth, there is no greater compliment than a repeat customer, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to work with our partners anew.
But what makes clients come back? I rattled off a number of areas I felt were unique to Connect to my friend, but have since given this more thought. One attribute stood out among the others.
At Connect, we’ve done our best work with clients where we truly developed a relationship as true partners where there is absolute trust in any given situation for both parties.
But how does a marketing/PR consultant become a true partner? I’d love to hear some of your ideas – especially if you are a previous client or a serial client, but here is my list to get you started:
Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.
The golden rule applies not only to children in grade school but in business relationships as well. Putting client’s interests in front of your own can be really hard for some. Live by the golden rule, and put your client’s needs first, and try to see things from their point of view. This process, over time, establishes trust.
“You can make [clients regard you as their Partner] more in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie
Dale actually used the word “friends” but the philosophy behind this is still applicable to marketing professionals trying to be regarded as partners. Partners are genuinely interested in their clients, personally, and in their businesses.
“Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” — Stephen Covey
I’m a Covey fan, and this quote rings true to me. There is more to being a partner than just jumping whenever the client asks and the only question being “how high?” It’s vital that we take the time to dig below the surface. Try to understand why clients are asking you to do certain things or to work in a certain way. What’s motivating them? What underlying interests are causing them to take certain positions on matters?
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
This one’s obvious isn’t it? Partners say what they’re going to do, and then do what you say they’re going to do! Deliver on promises, even the small ones.
Partners must be credible …
Credibility is important in a partnership. Authority is one of the major recognized factors of influence. Clients are more likely to trust and be persuaded by people who they regard as credible, authoritative experts.
So, become an expert! Partners are up on the latest news and trends and most importantly, we wrote an additional blog post on understand the client’s story.
“Flaming enthusiasm, backed by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” — Dale Carnegie
Genuine passion and enthusiasm about your work, clients, and desire to help are impressive. Body language and verbal language should exude energy. Everything either says or doesn’t say “energy” – what you choose to wear, your posture, use of animated gesture, facial expressions and voice.
In the end, nothing speaks louder than results. A partnership thrives when both parties work towards a common goal, treat each other with respect, and truly work together as a team. When these forces combine, great results naturally follow.
So, if you want clients to come back, learn to work together as partners. Great things are accomplished by true partnerships.