In today’s competitive business environment, it’s all about what your client wants and can/ should expect from you; the service provider. But as much as the client has the right to have certain expectations from you, the same applies the other way around. To be able to perform well and deliver the quality service that’s expected of you and then some more, the client plays an important role in several ways. As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap.
Here are some traits and characteristics you want to find in your client so you can be best you can be, and build long-lasting relations that are beneficial for both sides.
A client who trusts you
You definitely want to work for a client who trusts your capabilities and expertise and doesn’t doubt you in every step along the way. They did after all hire you specifically for those; your skills and experience, so there’ll be nothing more irritating that someone questioning everything you do. This will otherwise have a very negative impact on your work as you end up wasting all your time to defend your actions versus being productive.
You can detect a potentially distrustful relationship as early as during the bidding process, whereby some prospects may ask you for financial statements, resumes, your detailed approach and methodologies, etc. so they can be convinced that you are the right service provider. Well, if it takes this much to convincing, it’s probably a case not worth while pursuing. Plus, you may very well end up giving away way too much, and which eventually renders your paid services pointless. It’s all starting off the wrong foot.
Related: There’s a thin line between business development and providing free service
A client from whom you can learn
Although you’re the subject-matter expert, working for a client must nonetheless be an enriching experience in terms of acquiring new knowledge. This is after all a critical element as to how you continuously grow and expand your expertise, and which will help you in getting future projects from similar prospects and leads.
To differentiate between the two, there are those clients that willingly share all they know with your team so you have all the ammunition you need to perform exceptionally well. And then there are those clients that would willfully withhold important information from you, if for no other reason but to test whether you’ll be able to figure things out on your own. Talk about time being wasted that could have been used otherwise for productive work.
A client who brings out the best in you
There are some clients whom you and your team love to work for, and there are others that make you want to not show up for work for a few days. We’ve seen clients over whom team members fight to work for, and we’ve seen others that lead to threats of resignations if kept on as clients.
It goes without saying that you should always pursue the former, but when (and it will eventually happen) you end up with the latter, end the relationship amicably as soon as you can. You don’t want one negative client to affect the overall office atmosphere and as such impact your team’s performance in their work for the other clients.
This is of course not to say that you should be firing clients left, right, and center, but if you’ve really tried to resonate with the client and reached the conclusion in that there’s no chemistry, just walk away. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the client’s mistake, or for that matter even yours. Sometimes there’s just no synergy in the relationship.
A client who brings in more business
A happy client will become an important source for business. Not only will he/she generate continuous revenue from repeat business, but they will also bring in lots of new clients by spreading a good word about your firm amongst friends and peers. This is word of mouth marketing, and it is by far your most valuable and impactful marketing tool.
Related: A mouthful of words
It’s really quite simple; people like to help others, and they like to make recommendations that will make them proud and shine. It becomes of course critical that you do all you can to fulfill he promise they made about your brand. They are after all vouching for you, and you definitely don’t want to let them down or give them any reason to regret having recommended you.
A client who pays the bills on time
This is one of the most important indicators about whether you should grow a relationship with a client, terminate it, or just let it phase out. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to chase your rightfully earned fees. It’s not only degrading, but it negates all of the above and will end up being a relationship that wears you out.
In our particular case, we end the relationship once we detect a trend in deliberately stalling payments, especially when we know the client has no cash-flow problems whatsoever. It tells us that the client – although having had received valuable services – is not appreciating our work as such. And we know that the client has received value when he/she keeps coming back for more work.
Over time, you de-prioritize the client’s projects so you can spend your time working for those who pay their bills on time. This is a client you definitely don’t want to keep on your books, so you’re better off ending this as sooner than later so both sides can move on. You’ve got your own bills to pay on time, and you definitely don’t want to end up being a late-paying client yourself for no fault of your own.
Related: 5 reasons why it pays to pay your bills on time
If you’re in the business of providing services to clients – as is the case with consulting – look at it as a partnership. For the partnership to last a long time, both sides (stakeholders) have to be happy and content. Otherwise it stops being a win-win relationship and such, one that doesn’t do either parties much good on the long run.
Related: Is every customer worth keeping?
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About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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