Think about each of your top 4 or 5 clients. Collectively, they’re likely worth 50-60-70% of your firm’s revenue…. or more! And I’ll bet you could tell me how much revenue each generates, which services or products they’re buying from you and some details about each of their last few projects. That’s good.
Now think about your key contact at each of those clients – what details do you know about them? No, not their title or their biggest challenges at the office – though those are important. But… are they married or not? What about kids? Their hobbies or favorite sports team? Where they went on vacation last week? And so on… and so on.
Don’t think knowing that kind of thing is important? You’d be wrong!
All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things NOT being equal, people STILL do business with people they like.
I was in Cincinnati last week and had three meetings… working with a new client, re-connecting with a former client and meeting for the first time with a prospective client. Did we talk business? Of course… that’s why I was there. But over dinner, over drinks and over morning coffee, respectively, we also got to know each other a little bit as people.
No, there’s not a checklist of questions to go through with every client… that’s not what we’re talking about here. What is important is that, over time, through real human-to-human interaction (that would be in-person – preferably – or phone/Skype… not email or text messages!), you peel away the onion and get to know them as people, not just as clients.
And getting to know them isn’t really about gaining first-time clients… it’s more about slowly and genuinely building real relationships to help in developing repeat clients. And it’s repeat clients that you must have to build a healthy, sustainable business.
Oh, and here’s the secret… getting to know your clients is not and cannot be just a ‘sales strategy.’ If it’s not genuine and sincere – if you don’t really care about them at some level – they’ll see right through you and you’ll be dead before you get started.
Think of it this way… each of those top clients we talked about earlier is probably generating $100,000/year (or more… way more!) for you. Isn’t that worth a plane ticket, a nice dinner and a couple hours of conversation NOT about business?