Even though I have been working as an account manager for Signature Worldwide for some time now, every once in a while I ask myself, “What do I need to do to build a relationship with this new client?
Let’s take a step back. Training usually takes place first for my clients. The training is now over. The class attendees had a great experience; they are feeling energized and enthusiastic. They had fun while they learned. They were inspired and they connected with their trainer. Did I mention they had fun? Did I mention they were inspired?
Enter their account manager, yes, that’s me. Welcome to the next phase of their Signature Worldwide training program, the reinforcement phase of ‘Training that Sticks’.
As we move forward, I will offer support and advice on using the tools that we provide to help achieve their goals. Can I make a connection? Can I continue to carry on the fun and inspiration?
I put myself in my client’s shoes and reflect on past and current customer relationships. I ask myself, what would I want from my on-going relationship with Signature Worldwide? I want a partner that will help guide me along the way. I would want to know that there is a person, or a team of people, there for me for whatever it is I might need; that the lines of communication are open and my success is their #1 priority.
Now, what do I do to establish a solid foundation and begin building a relationship with this customer? Here are a few of my thoughts that I would like to share:
- Listen – and I mean really listen. Let the client speak and try to understand everything you can about their business and their employees. What is working well? Where are the challenges? What is it that they really want? What is most important to them? All along, as the answers become a little clearer, think about what you can do to help them to accomplish their objectives.
- Set goals. Be a results driven partner that is active and engaged. Together set goals and revisit those goals often. Share best practices and celebrate each and every success, keeping in mind that there is no success that’s too small to celebrate. Work through any challenges that might occur along the way. Continue to reinforce the important part that they, the client, play in creating positive changes, changes that create new desired behaviors. Encourage them as you remind them, that change takes time, but we will reach their goals working together.
- Create Trust. Do what you say you will do and set clear expectations. If you tell that client that you will follow-up in a month to review progress, be sure that you do.
- Be the expert. Be prepared with ideas and suggestions, but remember to engage the client in those discussions by asking questions such as, “How do you feel about that?’ or “Do you feel that will work?” Always keep in mind that they know their business best. Be their partner.
- Connect with your customer. Share something about yourself or about your life to help them understand a little more about you as a person. For example, you might share that you play golf or that you have two children in college. Learn something that you and your client might have in common to help strengthen that relationship on another level.
The thoughts I shared all have a common message – show the client that you care. Before I hang up the phone with a client, as most of my client interactions are via the phone, I always say, “You know that I am here for you for whatever you need.” Just be there.