Managing client relationships
Content provided by a guest contributor.
Most of us have had the experience where a tele-sales consultant calls you to sell you another product over the telephone. How many of you have become rather irritated or angry? Have you stopped to reflect on why you reacted like this? Let us explore this a bit further.
In the old days, a salesperson would use a somewhat coercive, telling approach to influence a potential client. They would try to sell their product or service by spelling out the features and boasting about what the service or product can deliver – irrespective of what you as the client needed.
Sadly, we see this approach still too often these days! Nowadays many potential clients are so much more educated, sophisticated in their thinking and critical in their questioning. Scores of us have had bad experiences where what we thought we were buying, somehow did not materialise.
These days, customers are asking for a lot more: many of them want a more consultative approach. They expect you to find out more about their business and how you can help them achieve their strategic goals. They all have two or three “buttons” or points that are close to their hearts.
For one client it could be to have a high quality product or service, for another it could be all about the cheapest price. A third client may need to feel he can trust you and so building up a relationship with this client would be your core focus. So, it's imperative that you take the time to find out what is important to a specific client and then to deliver accordingly. In fact, you can ask the client directly.
Clients respond well to an approach where you become a “partner” in helping them to achieve their goals. Your focus is to become a trusted “colleague” who explores issues with them, has their interests at heart and helps make their life easier through your services or products.
Potential clients are also looking for someone they can trust, who has integrity. So as the seller or service provider, your focus needs to be primarily on the client as opposed to on your product or service.
To achieve this, you'll need to stay close to your target market and be in touch with what their needs are, how these are changing and the impact this has on your offering. You will further strengthen your relationship with your client if you share your experience and expertise. Doing this, shows that you come from a space of caring about their business and not just trying to sell them something.
In essence, the new way of influencing others is through seeing them as being on an equal footing to you, actively building relationships and making a larger contribution to their operation, based on your expertise.
Article contributed by: Linda Germishuizen, Executive, Career and Life Coach