Do I need to tell you that these are stressful times? If I do, please let me know your secret for blocking out the world around you. For the rest of us, these times are creating an urgency that we “must” get things done ASAP or risk losing clients/business. Understand something here…this is not the reality. If you are at risk of losing clients, it’s more likely it’s because you have not consciously and systematically remained connected to them. Help is here!
Below I’ve listed key questions I recommend you ask of yourself before every interaction with a client. Pause and focus on them. Be honest with yourself about how your relationship is shaping up. By doing this, you will have assessed the situation well and can enter the interaction from a point of reality and not a stress-induced panic that will negatively cloud the interaction.
Questions to Assess Client Relationships
Have I shown my foresight?
Clients and teams want and need to be led. They value your prescience. It shows that you’ve been thinking about them and their commercial challenges. Consider the last encounters you’ve had with them. Did you look to the future and make strong recommendations? Or did you simply react to what’s happening now to put out fires?
What potential transformation have I offered lately?
Have you demonstrated your critical thinking and innovation? I don’t care if it’s off base a bit…just put forth what you believe your client or team needs to transform in 2021. This shows your insight.
Have I instilled additional trust and assuredness in my leadership?
Did you deliver on your commitments lately? Follow up and get feedback so that they know you want to drive results based on their goals, not your own. This leadership will increase trust.
Have I created a side-by-side relationship with this person/team to solve the issue being discussed?
As you find out what they need to strengthen, create a critical path to solve that challenge with them. Let them know they are not driving alone…you are helping to command the ship and move things in the right direction. This creates a partnership relationship rather than a client-vendor one.
What level of optimism have I shown?
Be optimistic. Comport yourself as though we’re in the middle of 2021 where the virus has begun to ebb. Let your client vent about the world’s issues…you’re job is to bring them back to the things that can be controlled and establish your team and you as critical to moving things forward.
How can I make our next interaction meaningful?
In this difficult time, make your interactions meaningful by caring for the person first, then moving to your business agenda. You must know their challenges/what keeps them up at night. Be relational first….sell second.
Having and maintaining self-awareness/emotional intelligence is critical now. Be grateful for the people you collaborate with and the ones you lead. Use these questions to improved your standing, related to your clients, and create a positive outlook for 2021. It will be a breath of fresh air for a lot of your clients (and employees) and have you stand out from the crowd!