In a Forbes article about building long-term client relationships, the author writes, “A business is only as good as the clients it serves, and no business gets far after losing the clients it has.”
How true this is! Because if you work with clients who want to partner and grow with you, then you are well on your way to success.
The flip side to this scenario is you must get rid of the bad clients because they will waste your time, squander your money and drain you of your energy. Then there will be nothing left for you to enjoy building relationships with the clients that really matter to your business.
Get to know the types of clients out there. Identify the bad from the good. It’s very tempting to accept business from a bad client because your cash flow may be floundering. But, I am going to tell you now that this will be the worst move you make. Rather spend your energy growing your sales by building loyal relationships with your good clients.
In my experience I have found that there are typically 3 types of clients:
In the article 8 Rules for Finding the Right Customer (and Saying No to the Wrong One), the author suggests you “Implement the No A**hole Policy”. I couldn’t agree more. If you already have this as an established rule you will be able to identify The Negotiator quite quickly because he generally falls into the bad client category.
How do you know he is The Negotiator?
He will want to negotiate a better price of course. He will also want to negotiate more time, more product and more intellectual property from you for next to nothing. You name it, he will haggle you for it. He will spend a lot of his time and energy trying to get a bargain out of you. And you will spend most of your valuable time defending your costs against your product or services rather than spending it doing the job well for better paying clients who appreciate you. He will expect you to put in the same amount of work, or maybe even more, and he will most likely sabotage the process in order to manipulate a further discount.
Do not take on this client even if your cash flow is screaming for him to come on board. He is not a good strategic move. He will not grow your sales. In fact, he is likely to lose you sales. In the end, your business will suffer.
This is the guy who puts one toe in before committing to the whole bang shoot. He may ask you to do something ad hoc or if you are in the business of selling products he may buy something small to start with. He may ask lots of questions for a long time before he makes a decision to spend money with you.
How do you get The Tester to commit long term?
Depending on how you handle him at the beginning of your relationship, you can potentially turn him into a forever client. Aside from offering an excellent service, which is a given, there are a few ways you can keep him coming back for more. For example: Develop strategies which keep him loyal to your business, like go above and beyond to meet his additional needs, and keep your products or services relevant.
Also, offer payment terms, gifts with minimum purchases, specials and loyalty incentives. Or, provide great value through package deals and bulk buys.
If you can win The Tester over, you will turn him into a loyalist and that is the most profitable client to have.
This is the client who will not only grow your sales but will end up helping grow your business. When The Loyalist walks through your door he has already made up his mind about doing business with you and will commit for the long haul just as long as you provide him with the service you promised in your marketing. Which brings me to the next question.
How do you find clients like The Loyalist?
He does his research because he has every intention of committing and remaining loyal from the moment he comes on board. This means you need to attract him while he is out there doing his research. It’s interesting to know that at least 80% of customers believe in businesses which are consistently creating engaging content in the digital space.
Build a marketing strategy to attract the loyal client. Do this by first identifying who he is (LinkedIn is a great platform for this) and then addressing his needs. Be authentic with your marketing campaign and provide him with the solutions he is looking for. You can do this in many ways but I find articles, videos and newsletters are an effective place to start.
Spend all your efforts looking for The Loyalist clients. There are many out there. You just need to start communicating with them.
Are you still feeling uncertain about finding the right type of clients to grow your sales? I can recommend you take 30 minutes to complete my Business Assessment. This will help you to start thinking about your customers and their role in your business.