Signing a new client is one of the most thrilling experiences in the business world. But it can also be a dangerous venture.
The first 90 days are crucial to the success of your relationship with your client. This new change is bound to be stressful for your client, especially if they are just coming out of a bad business-vendor relationship. Don’t let that hold you back.
Help your client ease into this new partnership by following these tips.
- Learn About Your Client’s Previous Supplier
Understanding how your client worked with its previous vendor will help you gain insight into:
- What worked and what didn’t in your client’s previous relationship
- How difficult this transition is for your client
- How you should modify your style to meet your client’s style
Form your new relationship around these details, and your client will be more inclined to trust and rely on you to fulfill their needs. Build a system based on what has worked not only for your company in the past but what has worked for your new client. Do this, and you’ll build a successful and lasting relationship.
- Recognize the Difficulty of This Transition for Your Point of Contact
Your client may be hesitant to invest a large sum of money into your services at first, especially if their previous vendor wasn't what they expected. Try not to push any services on your new client that are outside their budget or that the company is not yet comfortable with.
Worse yet, this change may have been sprung on your point of contact (POC) without his/her input. As if this alone isn’t stressful enough, your POC’s superiors are breathing down his/her neck about this new commitment - on top of all the other responsibilities your POC juggles on a daily basis.
- Listen to Your Point of Contact
In order to properly gauge the status of your client’s transition, pay close attention to the way your POC communicates with you. Each time he/she speaks with you, sends you an email, etc., find out what your POC is really saying.
- Is he/she stressed?
- Does your POC trust your company?
- Does he/she believe in you yet?
Over the first 90 days, communicate with your POC over the phone as much as possible and attempt to understand his/her feelings. Ask lots of questions. Listen to their tone of voice. Stay up to date on company happenings that might be influencing them. Speaking with your POC over the phone also helps build assurance that your new client’s project is in trustworthy hands.
- Acknowledge and Resolve Any Concerns
Relationships can get tense with particularly touchy transitions. Always listen closely to your POC and his/her superiors in order to determine the best route for resolving any conflict that may arise. Acknowledge their concerns and develop a strategy that works for your POC’s team and yours to best address them. Present the strategy both verbally and through email, so both sides have documented evidence and your POC has an eased conscience. You can even go so far as to have your management schedule weekly calls with your POC’s management to ensure all is moving well, until everyone is confident in the progress of the project.
The first 90 days with a new client are similar to adjusting to any new constant in your life, new roommate, new job, new pet, new boss. Each side has expectations and perhaps even fears. But it is in weathering these times of stress gracefully and productively that friends are made. Don't underestimate how a healthy business relationship during this initial time can help solidify your status as a trusted vendor.
Kaye’s work at Web Talent Marketing includes working closely with the client relations team to ensure exceptional service and strategies are provided to our clients. Additionally, her role includes new business development as she builds channel partnerships and leverages previous business relationships.