If you’ve ever lost a client you know the daunting feeling. You begin to blame yourself, your teammates, and your limitations in technology. What if it wasn’t any of these reasons at all? What If you lost them simply because they shouldn’t have been your client in the first place? To all of those confused right now, let me explain. It is a common belief that in order to grow a business you must sell as much product or service as you can to everyone you can. Is this true though? What if we revisited this theory and instead focused on the right clients for your business? How abundant would your business become if you had a client for life rather than a few years? For these answers I revisited a book I recently read, written by John Gamble and Steve Wurzbacher called, “What your clients won’t tell you and your managers don’t know.” To help the discussion I decided to highlight the 10 Commandments of Client Retention they have created.
- Client Retention begins with the right client’s under the right terms.
I had mentioned before that lost clients should probably never have been your client in the first place. What happens in many cases is that we get so caught up in new sales that we forget to consider who the ideal client for our business is. To help decide who our ideal client is, every business should create a list of criteria to interview clients as they are doing likewise. If either side’s criteria are not met, the client is not the right fit. It is always better to be upfront with clients from the start and not do business with them than end terms on a bad note.
- Start the contract according to the client’s expectations.
Business can be a cruel world. Businesses compete for the same client all while trying to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. What happens when you do gain the client? If you always have the client as the first priority then it should start with the beginning of the relationship. Many companies have their own agendas when entering into a relationship. One way to start should be to hold back implementing your own ways and focus on pleasing the client first. The clients’ expectations should be discussed through the first meeting. Make sure all expectations are discussed and business starts off on the right foot with the client being your main goal.
- Expect your client to have expectations you didn’t think they would have.
In business we can’t assume that we know everything. In a fast paced world clients’ needs change almost daily. If we plan to enter into a relationship with a client, we shouldn’t be surprised if they tell us they have different expectations than our research showed. This is why an expectations meeting is key. Know your clients beforehand and the relationship will start out on a strong foot.
- Always protect your client’s interests.
It is very easy to choose sides when business has the chance to go wrong. As mentioned, clients, as well as your own firm’s expectations and interests can change quickly. Communication is always key in any relationship and business is no different. We must protect our clients’ interests even if they don’t match our own. It may not be easy, but it doesn’t take a lot to do the right thing, even if that means losing business. In the end your client will respect you and your business will have the chance to grow from this experience (these opportunities will be explored later).
Jon Gyles can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org