Business circles often speak of the consumer lifecycle, but for B2B business and service industry providers, the client lifecycle takes center stage. The concept is similar, but there are a number of points of differentiation. Let’s discuss how your business can effectively manage clients for optimal working relationships.
Clients are held in high esteem. Generally speaking, an agency or business will have fewer clients than a mass consumer base. Each represents a long-term working relationship that needs to be carefully nurtured on a personal and ongoing basis. This begins and ends with negotiations, which are essential for closing deals and maintaining contracts.
There are many routes you can take when determining which clients will be a good fit for your business or agency. Having a good fit is more important than you may think since business alignment and matching values has a great influence on productivity and performance. This needs to be taken into consideration with all opportunities.
When you first enter into negotiations, you’ve got to present a plan of what your business and agency can do for the client. You need to show value and dedication that will satisfy their needs better than your competitors. Once the details are agreed upon, contracts are signed. In most cases, there will be a dedicated account manager. This is a point of liaison who will personally oversee everything on the client’s behalf. This has become commonplace in various industries, including banking.
Once a client signs on, your business or agency needs to build relationships to the point where you are viewed as a trusted advisor. This is earned over time, and each step of the way will influence this. To perform your best, you’ll need to become a brand advocate. This will display your commitment to the client, alongside your dedication to providing important information that puts you in a position as a leader is key.
Maintaining these relations requires value to be provided consistently. When a client signs on, there will be an onboarding period that sets the tone for carrying out the agreement. During this time, the processes are set and should be streamlined for efficiency. It is no secret that well-managed clients are happier, and will be more likely to renew, so getting a smooth system running is crucial.
Tips for welcoming new clients on board:
- Have a documented outline of the processes
- Set and manage expectations
- Set ongoing catch up meetings
- Show value early on
- Automate processes where possible
- Debrief plans as they roll-out
- Ensure communication is clear
Research is a key task for account managers. Whether they conduct it themselves or assign it to other team members, knowing your client and their needs at a core level is crucial if you’re to provide them with true and tailored value. This will also help you to become more proactive, anticipating needs and offers that appeal to them. You should also delve into relational research so that you can find out the client’s soft skills and views on what success looks like, for example.
The key to all relationships is communication. This is essential in client management. There needs to be consistent communication without being unnecessary or overwhelming. Once you have signed the agreement, it is always a good idea to leave room for flexibility and new ideas. This creates a trusted working relationship with room to expand, creating a good impression and level of comfort for ongoing relations.
When it comes to renewal periods, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute. These can be negotiated months in advance. To encourage this, you’ve got to ensure that the client’s expectations are met consistently and that you’re looking out for other solutions that could add value to their operations. You can also effectively grow your business along with theirs when you upsell or cross-sell with services that could be of real benefit to them.
Sometimes, renewals don’t flow easily. Your client may have a wandering eye and wonder if they still need your services. In these cases, you can implement quick wins and show how you were able to add value. Looking forward, all aspects of the agreement can be renegotiated and altered, with new expectations set.
Once you have experience in dealing with clients, you can begin to optimize the process. This includes gathering data to review performances. This way, you can implement updates to improve and ensure your clients are satisfied. It is important that since each client is different, there is room for customization according to their individual needs. Following on from this, it is crucial that you conduct ongoing healing checks with clients. This will go a long way in securing client retention. Be sure to also address out-of-scope requests during renegotiation periods.
That wraps up our top tips on how to effectively manage your clients. As you can see, a lot centers on the art of negotiation. Managing clients well will earn you a respected reputation in the industry and directly influence your long-term success.
For more information, or to become part of Nexa’s client list, get in touch with us.