Sales Advice

Five Tips for Building Client Relationships

Written by Celeste Heiter for Gaebler Ventures

Five ways to build a personal relationship with a potential client beyond the initial pitch or presentation. In the long run, even if you don't get the account on the first try, staying in touch with a client may prove more valuable than you realize.

There's more to making a successful marketing pitch than putting together a PowerPoint presentation and showing up for a meeting with a prospective client.

Doing your homework and cultivating a lasting business relationship beyond the initial pitch will go a long way toward turning a prospect into a valuable customer. These five strategies will show you how.

Take a Proactive Approach

Find a reason to meet with the company's primary contact before the presentation. Make an appointment ahead of the presentation to drop off your brochure or marketing folder. While you're at it, ask a few questions about what the client expects to learn and achieve on the day of your scheduled presentation. This way, on the day of the presentation, the client will already be familiar with you and your company.

No Hard Feelings

Even if you don't get the account, don't let that stop you from maintaining a good relationship and staying in touch with the prospective client. Instead of retreating with your tail between your legs, keep the prospective client informed of your other successes. Send an occasional note or press release to let them know what you're doing and that you're still interested

Never Say Never

Keep in mind that "No" may not always mean "No." A presentation that ends with your company not being chosen does not necessarily rule out your company altogether. Remember, there's always a possibility that the company they choose over yours may not work out, and you will get the job after all. Building a viable client relationship may take considerably more time than the hour you spend making the pitch.

Watch for Items of Interest

After your marketing presentation, whether you get the account or not, maintain the relationship by keeping an eye out for items of interest to your potential clients. Mail them newspaper or magazine clippings of articles that are pertinent to their business, or send e-mails with links to websites or relevant news. This lets the prospective client know that you are aware of their needs and interests.

Get Personal

Always remember the importance of forging a personal relationship that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of a potential client's business. Find ways to make a personal connection. Include them on your holiday mailing list. Make a note of birthdays and anniversaries. Ask about spouses and children. Take an interest in their hobbies and pastimes. The personal connections you build within a business relationship may translate into recommendations, referrals, and unforeseen opportunities in the future.

Celeste Heiter is an entrepreneur and professional writer. She has owned several businesses, is a graphic designer and an expert on Japan and its culture. Today Celeste devotes her time to writing about a variety of business topics.

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