Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Clients want....

These are some general observations compiled by me over the years.  They are basic, but I've found them to be true. We all work for someone, regardless if we are part of a small or large company or run our own business. A former manager of mine once told me, "the check flows one way", meaning that the client's needs and wants are what drives the discussion. This really resonated with me. I hope that you find the following observations helpful.

Clients want a single point of contact -

Nothing frustrates clients more than having to deal with multiple representatives from your company. No one likes to repeat themselves, or having to explain their needs over and over again. Having to deal with different people every time you reach out to a vendor sends the signal that their business lacks an efficient structure to deal with client requests and that they really don't prioritize your requests.

Clients like listeners -

One of my main takeaways from my days in the pharmaceutical industry was that a great sales consultant was also a great listener.  We all love to hear the sound of our own voice. We need to concentrate on what the client is saying. You definitely need to know your product and service inside out. But don't be so consumed by your sales pitch. The key is to ask probing, open-ended questions to uncover what it is that the the client really wants... then tailor whatever you do to meet those needs.  It sounds basic and intuitive, but most people don't practice this.  Reaffirming that you understand what the customer desires, and then presenting what you can do to meet their needs, goes a long way.

Integrity and honesty rule -

Misleading clients may initially get you the business, but will this practice will eventually do greater harm than good. People do business and more importantly, do repeat business with people they can trust. Nothing ruins a reputation faster than than a perceived lack of integrity. There is an old saying that if you do a good job, someone will tell five people, if you do a bad job, they will tell twenty.  That is so true. Even more so if you provide poor service and are unethical while doing it.

Be well-rounded -

Most of us have lives outside of our careers. Find a way to relate to your clients outside of your business role. Inquire about what makes them tick in a non-threatening and non-intrusive way. People do business with people that they like. Providing great service and demonstrating that you are more than just a job title, will make you intriguing to the client.  If you are memorable in a positive way, the odds are they will call you back in the future to work with them again.

Stay cool under pressure -

It is very hard at times to maintain a cool demeanor. Especially if you work in a job or industry that is fast-paced and deadline-intensive. People are naturally drawn to folks who seem to have it "all under control" especially when they are about to "lose it". Being the one who maintains their sanity when all around are panicking will benefit in the form of repeat business the next time a client has a crisis on their hands.

Maintain your edge -

Everyone likes an expert.  One of the main reasons that you hire someone  to do a job is that you believe that the person is supremely equipped at accomplishing the task.  All industries change over time.  You have to stay relevant and up on all of the changes regarding your product, service and most importantly, the competition.  Continuing education is not just about degrees or certifications, you have to continually study your profession.

Copyright 2013 - Richard K. Bell  (TheBellReport.com)  All Rights Reserved