Build Better Client Relationships

I have compiled the things that have worked for me as a corporate executive and an entrepreneur. While this post is written from a supplier, partner, or vendor perspective, it works in both directions:

  1. Listen to understand – Too often, many people think they have the answers and listen to interrupt; that pattern needs to be broken. You need to listen to understand what their actual needs are. Some clients know exactly what they want or need, and you should give it to them but, you should also keep listening. Others are trying to fulfill their strategies and may not know the steps. They may ask for something that requires three additional prerequisites they were not aware of or may ask for one thing, but it not what they need or want. Listening is key to understanding.
  2. Do what you say – When you say you will do something, do it. Whether the item is big or small, your integrity is being tested. If the client knows that you will do what you said you would do, they know you have integrity. Integrity will lead to deeper and stronger relationships with your clients.
  3. Deliver results – When engaging with a client, you must put yourself in their shoes. They hired you because they wanted your expertise, experience, and they wanted the results you committed to delivering. If you can go above that and deliver better outcomes for the same value, you owe it to yourself and to your client to provide them.
  4. Meet regularly – Things will go wrong; however, if you wait to meet with your client and only meet with them when things go wrong, you will be associated with things going wrong. Alternatively, meeting weekly or bi-weekly to discuss the things going well, concerns they might have, or changes that might be coming, you will build trust and a strong relationship that can often result in weathering problems when they arise. They will be more inclined to let you fix the problem when it happens rather than simply replacing your service with another vendor.
  5. Know the business – Take the time to understand the client’s business. When you know the client’s core business, you can deliver a better outcome, modified to meet the uniqueness of their business. Help them solve their problems, offer solutions, be engaged in what they do and how they do it. I found a quote that captures this, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  6. Provide thought leadership – When you listen to understand, meet regularly, deliver results, know the business, and have integrity, they will listen to what you have to say. When you bring solutions or outcomes that can improve the underlying services that support their core business or benefit their core business through innovation, optimization, new solutions, new ideas, or efficiency, you will be a strategic partner bringing value to them

I am not saying that everything will always be perfect if you do these things; things can still change. However, if you don’t do these things, you leave everything up to chance, and chance is a dangerous place to be in business. The items above take time, effort, and energy, but doing them well will put you in the best possible position with the client.

Establishing relationships is a human experience, one that will help you grow your network, business, and friendships. We all prefer to work with the people we know, like, and trust. Why not make that a priority that will carry forward in your career and continue to open doors for the rest of your life.

Sean C. Barker

Chief Executive Officer

Sean established cloudEQ in 2007 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Sean’s successful career as an entrepreneur and executive at various Fortune 100 companies was a huge driver in starting his own business.

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