To really influence a customer, you need to build a relationship on trust. If a client trusts you, they’ll be open to your feedback, and will end up getting a better result.
How many times have you suggested a design or functionality, only for it to be shot down, and then end up building something you believe really is sub-standard without that input from yourself? If you’ve had these situations (and trust me, nearly all of us have), then it’s very likely that your client relationship wasn’t built on trust.
So how do you go about building this elusive trust with clients? Here are six simple steps; follow them all and you’ll certainly be building better relationships with your customers, which in turn means more influence and greater results.
I don’t mean calling them Madam or Sir, I’m talking genuine respect. Don’t be late to appointments, dress appropriately, don’t duck blame and be polite. Share their vision and understand their reasoning for decisions.
I mean really genuine, not just marketing speak genuine. Next time you speak to your client, be down to earth, shake off that corporate speak and treat them like a valued friend.
Justify Your Work
Don’t just send through a design concept or a dot point list of functionality without explaining your thought processes. Sure, you can explain to them technically, but give them statistics, case studies, reasons you chose that color or why you suggest against that 320 field long contact form. Do research and arm yourself with statistics and back up every claim.
We all make mistakes, well the humans amongst us anyway. I’m sure you’ve made a fair amount of mistakes on client time, like all of us have. It’s how you deal with them that makes you better – own up to them, let the client know, and either share or wear the costs of your mistake.
Have an idea that may do wonders for your client? Share it with them – don’t be afraid of rejection, let them know it’s an idea, and make sure they understand you were thinking of them last night or over the weekend – this proves you are passionate, and not just a 9 to 5 thinker.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s true though; nobody wants a supplier who will do whatever he or she asks, even when the supplier knows it’s a bad move. If your client asks you to do something that you know won’t work, then let them know – politely of course, and explain your reasons in detail.
If you build a trusting relationship, you will end up with a longer relationship that goes far beyond just this present project. You’ll build influence with your customer, and have a loyal client who wants to return and keep working with you.
We all know it’s cheaper and easier to work with a previous client. They know your processes and systems, they don’t need every dollar justified and they’ll ask for your input, which in turn makes for a better and more fulfilling project.
Hats off to you for winning clients and influencing people!