I want to stress that as you plan for 2010 with so many people distracted by the economy, there is one major action you can undertake that can neutralize this angst.
Visit Your Clients
In-person. Face-to-face. Shirtsleeves rolled up. Behind closed doors. Focused.
One of the most important actions we can take is visiting clients with the intention of understanding their bedrock goals and challenges as clearly as they do going into the New Year. It’s amazing how powerful in-person meetings can be when they focus on listening and brainstorming solutions that drive results for a client. Not only are you viewed as a partner but you are also seen as a catalyst for change. This overture demonstrates your empathy and commitment to make a difference in their business and mitigate their challenges.
When visiting and listening to your clients, you discover: – how to work with them in today’s environment – what’s important to them – where your organization is most vulnerable and needs to strengthen it’s value proposition Essentially you realize what you need to do to retain this client. This is very important given that in times like this your clients can meet with other suitors willing to discount their services to attain them as a client. Your work with them solidifies your relationship and commitment to them.
Often it’s easier to avoid the tough questions but not so in this action. The tough questions are the manifestation of your desire to help solve issues. In my executive development and sales training sessions, we spend a considerable amount of time working on “probing questions” that get you the answers you need to succeed for your client. And these questions, which emphasize your knowledge of their business, really can impress a client. Visiting with your clients within the first quarter of 2010 will solidify your relationship, alert you to areas where you need to bolster your value proposition, and give clients’ confidence in your abilities as a partner/counselor as they face the challenges this year is surely to bring.
I hope this bit of advice and insight helps as you enter the new year. I wish all of you a prosperous and healthy New Year, one filled with powerful partnering agreements!