The first thing that comes to mind and the most important is the monetary definition of course: the money you make after expenses.
It is also the advantage or benefit gained from doing something.
We want you to think different. Put the dollar signs and commas at the bottom of your priority list. Focus on the benefits both your client and yourself will gain from a true partnership by making your relationship your number one priority. By doing this, the rest will fall into place: increased retainers, new projects, ROI, the monetary profit.
Connect with your client by LISTENING to their needs. Make them identify you as a creative problem solver with solutions to their needs.
Right client, right fit
Dig into who you are and who they are to see if you are a right fit
Make sure values align
Make sure you believe in them and they can believe in you. You need to be able to feel it and so do they.
2. Develop Trust
As you listen to the needs and requirements of your client, assess what is really needed. Focus on solving the real problem at hand, not just what they have asked for. Doing what’s right, and making positive recommendations, will let those branches grow. And when they start listening to YOU, you’ll know the trust is there.
3. Create Belief Through Passion
You’ve heard each other out, but just because they are starting to trust you doesn’t mean they will believe or go along with everything you say. This is where your emotion and authenticity needs to shine. You NEED to believe in what you do, you can’t fake this part. If you try, their “you’re selling me” radar will go off and the defenses will go up. Your passion is authentic, and needs to be felt. By feeling and experiencing your passion the rest will be justified and they will know you are looking out for their best interests.
4. Remove Burdens
They believe you now. You’re sitting good, both keeping it real, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and being done. Create ways to assist your client and help them along their journey with you. Good ideas get perceived as more work and the more work you put on your client the more you’ll push them away. Find a way to make this easy on them. You are supplementing their efforts and there to make them shine. Make sure they do. Throw your budget out the window, continue to listen, and make this EASY as possible for them.
You’ve now both been listening to each other, they believe in you and you in them and you’ve got some serious skin in the game by assisting them through additional burdens that may have come up – now you need to dig into the details. Throughout this process you have been educating them on the culture, methodology and concepts of how you are going to make them shine, now it’s time for the gritty details.
Five Rules for a successful education:
Don’t move too fast, be sure to stop and ask questions, and make sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward.
Pick one path and stick to it. There are often many different ways to skin a cat, but just share one. No need to complicate your process with options that may end up causing confusion in the end.
Provide solid resources and visuals. Don’t expect them to take all the notes or do the research on their own (burdens), make it easy.
Set a timeline and share it. Show them your task breakdown of the project and be clear with what each step means and their involvement required at the major milestones.
Set clear expectations: define who is responsible for what (especially the client), what you need and when you need it by. Open-ended requests or statements leave a gray area that can damage communication. Be direct.
6. Be Persistent
Things should be going fairly well by this stage, but until the deal is signed your job is not done (nor will it ever be if done right). You cannot get lazy and stagnant. Follow up regularly and continue to ask questions to weed out any lingering thoughts, questions, or doubts that may remain. If you hit a wall, fight to get in front of the right people to get on board with your agenda. You’re the expert, you’re the one with the passion, you need to be involved and stay involved, until the ink is on the contract. When it is, the real “work” can begin.
7. Execute Above and Beyond
They’ve now signed. They believe you and trust in you to do what you said. Don’t mess it up. Now is the time to prove yourself.
Stay on point
Use your team
Use their team (you’re not the expert in your client’s business, they are)
Do whatever is necessary to meet expectations.
Just because you’ve got their trust doesn’t mean you can’t lose it. Throw your budgets out the window and do whatever it takes to continuously build the relationship until you reach “friend status”.
Don’t criticize or condemn your client. They will feel it, and you need to get to friend status first. Then, when you get there, know when to lean in and lean out.
8. Analyze, Adjust, & Report
Your job is to develop this relationship/partnership and hit goals. Do so by any means necessary. Just because a plan was set doesn’t mean it can’t change. You and your team needs to execute and analyze, identifying what is working, what is not, and what is needed to hit goal. Adjust and do so.
Remember to keep your client informed. Tell them what needs to be done and what you are doing with evidence of why.
Hold yourself, your team and your client accountable to the goals set and their commitments.
Report all progress and analytics monthly and regularly check in with your client to keep a continued dialog going
9. Grow Together
Create new campaigns with additional efforts to supplement new requests or goals added.
React appropriately (Don’t “knee-jerk”)
You all worked hard on this plan, don’t be quick to throw it away.
Things take time to catch hold. Remind your client and team of this and continue to add ideas and content to make it take hold.
Provide new value, always. (Don’t get stuck in a stale routine)
Add value with new recommendations
Cycle through steps four – nine again and upsell by providing solutions to challenges and burdens they bring to you.
Never forget your own value.
Don’t get taken advantage of. Now that the trust and belief is solidified and you’re in the “friend zone” you can’t give it all away, be cautious not to make this the norm.
10. Keep your client first and you shall profit together.
Challenge everything, and be consistent.
You’ve established a strong rapport with your client; make sure you maintain it. Stay ahead of the game and anticipate their needs.
Listen and respond to everything, whether you are the expert or not. They brought it to your attention for a reason.
Remember how this started, with the best solutions for their needs. You are not a yes man. Always do what is best for the client.
Be transparent to a fault. Humanity creates connection.
As the Vice President, I build strong, personal relationships with each and every client that partners with Leighton Interactive. I love helping clients achieve their goals, dreams, and visions in ways they never thought possible. My daily schedule consists of meeting with clients, communicating client information to the inbound marketing team, and managing account managers. When I'm not busy with client work, I love to relax and spend time with my two amazing kids.