A Totally Integrated Approach to Client Relations

If everyone could generate business, then we’d all be millionaires. Many firms have trouble connecting with the people that need their services. When you’re drumming up new business, there’s three “phases” you go through:

– Acquiring a new client. Discovering who they are. Finding them in the first place.
– Converting the lead. Signing on a new client. Completing the “sale.”
– Consistent customer satisfaction. Retaining their business. Keeping clients happy.

Client acquisition can be tough, as is converting your prospect into paid business. Once you’ve moved into a “regular” business relationship, it may feel like you need to treat your customers differently. But what if we looked at our new clients, our existing customers and our prospective leads through the same lens? What would happen if you treated all your prospective, established and recurring clients by the same standard?

“Treat others as you treat yourself.”
— Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva

I was walking through Lockerbie Square in Indianapolis, Indiana, when an old-school style building caught my eye. I love strolling through Indy – it’s one of my favorite cities, and the weather is just turning nice again. When I saw this building, I knew I’d been there before, but I couldn’t figure out what was familiar.

A moment later, I realized it was The Academy Building, and we have a client there. That felt right – Attorney Computer Systems serves people all across the country, and we do significant work in Indy. But I thought it was weird that I didn’t immediately recognize my client’s location.

That’s when an internal voice spoke up: “Actually, Paul, we don’t have a client in that building. They’re a prospect.”

At first, I was satisfied with that answer. Of course I wouldn’t know every detail about a prospect – and in an era where we do so much work online, it’s easy to forget a physical location. Still, something about my thought process didn’t feel right. What wasn’t fitting for me?

So, I sat with these thoughts some more, and this is what I came up with:

I think many people treat prospects differently than they treat clients. If you want to land a prospect’s business, you need to communicate your value proposition in a way that speaks to that individual. When you’re supporting an ongoing client, they already know what you’re about, and you just have to execute on your promises. So, I suppose it’s natural to make the separation.

But, what if we didn’t differentiate? What if we treated everyone like we were already doing work for them? What benefits could result from this consistency?

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
— The Golden Rule
A code across generations of philosophy and religion.

How can you, your client and your company improve if you choose to adhere to the golden rule? What will happen if you apply these ethics not just to your personal empathy, but also to your professional life?

When you treat each client the very same way, you have:

A Broad, Vibrant Landscape. Prospects will feel familiar and unintimidating. Longtime clients will feel refreshing and just as important as the day you signed them. Each customer will “look” the same, offering you equal opportunities to grow your business and profit.
Your Attitude. When you’re not creating different segments of business relations, you can just focus on customer service. Embody the same proactive perspective during every meeting. Don’t alter your behavior for who you’re talking to. Be comfortable. Be yourself!
Client’s Perception. Your clients can tell when you’re being authentic. A prospect can feel when they’re being sold too hard — when the salesperson is desperate. If you treat everyone by the same golden standard, then all your clients will view you in the same positive light.
Your Career. Want to eliminate obstacles hampering your professional success? Start with your own mental game. Are you breaking clients down into unnecessary categories? Why do you think you need to treat a lead differently than a repeat customer? Be honest with yourself and find the answers you need to hear. Then, give everyone your same level of attention.
Everyone’s Bottom Line. When you start treating everyone the same way, and offering the same killer service across the
board, you will all make more money. Believe that your juiciest prospect is already your top paying client. They will believe you can make them richer. Treat your long standing business relationships with the same enthusiasm and passion you’d offer a day-one account. They’ll never feel taken for granted and will stay with you for the long haul.

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