I often hear people recommending that business owners spend more time building relationships with their clients. I think this is great advice but I want to look harder at the definition of “relationship”.
My definition of relationship is one in which two people get to know each other on a personal level. What I see too often is business owners not getting beyond a client/provider relationship.
When you call your clients, do they see you as you or as a service provider? Do you see them as them or as clients? If you ran into them at the grocery store could you carry on a conversation without talking about your business or having to resort to talking about the weather? If you are active on social media, do you connect with your clients on it?
In the early 90’s I sold cars and I remember taking a sales training class during which we were taught to keep asking questions until we could find common ground with the prospect. I would ask them about children, sports and travel. When I was able to take the conversations in these directions and away from cars and trucks, I actually got to know them as I would get to know people when I was about and about. I left that industry almost 30 years ago and am still friends with many of these folks who were also clients of mine.
This means you are going to have to open up too. You will have to be a little vulnerable and you will have to risk that some clients may not “like” you. I have connected with my clients on social media, not talking about my business page but my personal page, and this has cost me a few clients over the years. When I weigh this out though, the loss of a few clients versus the much better relationships with the rest, the latter has benefitted me far more.
Do you think it would benefit you to deepen your relationships with your clients? How? What steps can you take in order to create new habits to start doing it?