As a B2B marketer, one of your biggest priorities will be forming and maintaining good relationships with your clients. When your clients feel like you’re a part of their team, they’ll be better able to collaborate with you, and less likely to abandon you for one of your competitors. Over the long term, you’ll be able to do better work and you’ll see much higher rates of client retention.
The question is, what steps can you take to create a better bond with your clients, and prevent them from leaving?
Improve Your Communication
One of the best things you can do is improve your communication:
- Be proactive. Be proactive in your communication, rather than reactive. If you anticipate a problem, notify your client as soon as possible and start putting together a plan of attack. The sooner you reach out, the better.
- Be transparent. It’s also important to be transparent if you want to build trust and establish a stronger bond. If you make a mistake and something goes wrong, admit to that mistake and explain why it happened. Be upfront about how your business operates behind the scenes, as well.
- Articulate things clearly and straightforwardly. Accurate, concise communication is vital to keep your client bonds strong. Make sure to proofread your emails before sending them, and clear up any ambiguities proactively.
- Know your audience. You’re going to talk to different clients in different ways, and at different intervals. Some clients prefer a mostly hands-off relationship, only expecting meetings when something important needs to be decided. Others will prefer frequent check-ins and regular meetings.
Have Fun With Your Client
In addition to communicating regularly, you should consider spending time having fun with your client. These represent additional expenses, but could be a great way to forge a stronger personal connection with your client (and simultaneously earn their loyalty).
These are some examples of excursions you can try:
- Go out to lunch with your client, or consider taking them out for brunch or dinner. Conversation over a meal is always a great way to learn more about someone, and they’ll be grateful for the time away from the office.
- Shooting ranges. If you’re looking for something more exciting, you could try something more adventurous. According to PrimaryArms, you could take your client to a firing range with a selection of different weapons. It’s a great way to relieve stress, and probably won’t be something their other business partners do with them.
- For a more traditional option, you could also spend time golfing with your client, enjoying the outdoors with a bit of light exercise.
These are just a few examples of activities you can enjoy together. Learn what types of hobbies and interests your clients have, and indulge them.
Showcase Your Results
Most clients are primarily with you because they want to see results—whatever that means for your industry. You can prove that you’re doing a good job by sharing and effectively communicating your results. Generate regular reports, or regularly remind your client what you’ve been able to accomplish together. Keep these results top of mind, and if your results ever falter, invest extra effort to make up the difference.
Acknowledge and Make Up for Mistakes
Showing off the great results you got for your client is a surefire way to increase their loyalty and improve your reputation. Unfortunately, you won’t always have good results to show. Even in the best circumstances, you’ll eventually have missteps and errors to deal with; you might have periods where you’re seeing neutral or bad results, or you might make a mistake that compromises your ability to make a deadline.
When this happens, the best thing you can do is acknowledge and try to make up for your mistakes. Rather than trying to hide or obscure the fact that you dropped the ball, be proactive and straightforward, and address the situation. Make a clean, full apology, and explain what you’re going to do to make up for the error. Sometimes that means simply fixing the mistake; other times, it means throwing in a discount or bonus to repair the relationship.
Send Messages of Gratitude
Gratitude is powerful, and it’s important to express it on a regular basis. Make sure your clients know that their patronage is appreciated. For example, at the end of each major project, you can send your clients a “thank you” card in the mail. During holidays or at the end of the year, you can send a gift basket to your client as a show of your gratitude. It goes a long way in reinforcing your relationship.
Change Your Methods of Customer Acquisition
Though much of your client relationship building will occur after you’ve acquired a new client, you’ll also need to think about how you’re acquiring clients in the first place. If you can start your relationships from a warmer place, and set the right tone for those relationships, you’ll be much more likely to see the results you want.
For starters, you can focus on inbound marketing, rather than outbound marketing. Whereas outbound marketing goes out of its way to get attention from new people, inbound marketing attempts to naturally get the attention of people who are already interested in your product. Outbound marketing forces you to reach out to strangers, whereas inbound marketing encourages strangers to reach out to you. This is a subtle shift, but it’s one that can make clients feel more invested in the relationship.
You can also increase your effort in relation to generating client referrals. Clients will be far more likely to start with a warm connection to you if they’ve been personally referred by someone they trust. Add or improve incentives to encourage more referrals.
These strategies are just some of the ways you can improve your relationships with your clients. With better client relationships, you’ll be able to do more for your clients—and you’ll naturally retain them far longer than you would otherwise.