6 Steps to Building Long-Lasting Client Relationships
For professionals who work and thrive in industries that have long sales cycles, creating long-lasting client relationships is critical for sustainable (and repeat!) business. But with an ever-growing to-do list and a full calendar, how do you make time to build those lasting relationships?
Strengthening the relationships you have with your clients will make for a very smart investment as well. Did you know that it costs you anywhere from five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one? And as an added bonus, when your happy (retained) customers praise you, the referral business they give you is practically free. This is why marketing to your existing customers can be more effective than buying leads or reaching out to unknown audiences.
Here are a few tips for truly connecting with your clients to keep them coming back for more.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Your clients need to know what’s going on. Whether you’re a real estate agent and the property your client wants has multiple offers or you’re a loan officer and a mortgage looks like it might not go through, tell your clients as much as you can as regularly as you can — and do it proactively. When you’re in an active sales process, err on the side of too much communication. Reach out and update them about what’s going on, what their options are and what you recommend they should do, so they don’t have to constantly track you down to understand what’s happening.
2. Tell the Truth
Sometimes you will hit snags. Clients won’t always get what they want. Financing falls through. Credit scores aren’t high enough. Another person has put a bid on their dream home. The insurance coverage they want will be a bit more expensive than they thought. Life happens, and you need to be upfront about any challenges or snags you hit along the road. It’s better to face the music than risk further negative consequences by delaying bad news. Once trust is broken with your client, it’s very difficult and time-consuming to earn it back.
Understand your clients. Show empathy towards their needs and try to see the situation from their perspective. Know what they want and help them get it. Take notes and make sure you have a system to keep track of them so that when your client comes back in five years, you remember who they are. Needs evolve, of course, but don’t start from zero if you can possibly avoid it. Investing in a CRM tool can be a big help with keeping track of each individual client’s history and details so you can serve them better.
4. Make Their Lives Better
Fundamentally, if you add value to people’s lives, they will remember you and recommend you to their friends and family. You are obviously providing a service, but acting as a guide and sharing your industry expertise will also help them remember you as a trusted, valuable resource. Your clients should know they can turn to you with any questions related to your area of expertise, even if it’s not directly about your transaction. An effective way to do this is to create and send helpful, relevant content that educates the client.
5. Reward Your Loyal Customers
Once your customers become repeat clients or have referred friends and family, make sure to thank them. Whether it’s a special offer, a thoughtful gift or even a handwritten note, make sure you’re thanking your VIPs and not only contacting them when you’re trying to sell something.
6. Stay In Touch
When the transaction is over, the last thing you want is for the relationship to end. That’s why it’s crucial to keep the conversation going. But how do you do that when there’s no longer a sale to discuss? Two ways:
Keep track of important milestones and dates (like the anniversary of their close date, or their birthday, or six months since your last communication) and reach out with a personal note, a card or a phone call. This is where you’ll really get value out of your CRM.
In between those personal touches, send them helpful, engaging content via email and social media. These points of contact serve as reminders that you gave them great service and that you’re still available as a trusted expert to answer any questions they might have. By reaching out with interesting content rather than explicit sales messaging, clients are less likely to tune you out and more likely to think of you when they need your services again, or when a friend does.
Developing relationships is critical for getting repeat and referral business. Make it easy for your previous clients to recommend you by staying in regular (but not annoying!) contact. Make sure you’re sending a variety of messages, not just sales pitches. You know those annoying friends in your life who always take and never give? Don’t be the business equivalent of that person. Make sure you’re providing value to your clients, and they will reward you with long-term loyalty.
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