Build Lasting Client Relationships: Make Friends Not Sales

Written by Nick Leffler | Comments Off on Build Lasting Client Relationships: Make Friends Not Sales | 8 min read

Think of a company you love doing business with. One that you’re passionate about and going to them is a no-brainer. You know, the one who, even if the competition is cheaper, you won’t ever jump ship. That’s the company you want to look towards to learn how to build lasting client relationships.

For me one of those companies is Buffer. Never once have they tried to make a sale to me. It seems to be working for them, though. Their growth is visible especially since they make it open with their open company culture. This isn’t about Buffer, though I will use them as an example often.

This article’s purpose is to help you make the mental shift to build lasting client relationships. It’s about making friends, not sales.

Sometimes it can be hard to make that transition because you have an awesome product and you want to share it! You want people to buy it and you want them to do it now. We want instant gratification for ourselves.

That’s where the first transition comes in. We naturally gravitate towards the sales mentality even to those of us who aren’t salespeople, and I’m definitely not one!

Ditch The Sales Mentality

To build lasting client relationships, this is the first thing that has to go. It doesn’t mean ditch the sale though! Oh no, we of course still want that sale but it’s going to have to wait and move the desire will have to move to the background. The sale can wait until trust is established and you and your client have a better relationship.

If you jump right into the sale then you probably don’t know much about your client and they don’t know much about you. That sounds like a lose-lose to me. To truly serve a client, as much needs to be known about them as possible which takes time. It may not be a specific client you need to know either, you just need to know who your ideal client is, the person you’re trying to help.

So how do you help a fictitious client you’ve never met and you don’t know much about?

Do some research!

Learn as much as you can about your client and write everything you discover down in one place. Keep a document where you write all the ideal traits of your ideal client. This document will become what is known as your buyer persona. Growing your business online depends on a lot of things including the time you take on brand design and it all begins with a buyer persona.

Once you know about your future clients you can ditch the sales mentality and start creating some really helpful awesome content. It’s all about earning the sale with trust and relationships to build lasting client relationships.

Let’s go back to Buffer, the company who I’m a huge fan of. They’ve never tried to sell me anything. Rather, they’ve regularly delivered helpful material to me and provided me with a powerful free trial of their software.

For a long time I wasn’t a paying customer of Buffer. Because they took the time to build a relationship and not make a sale, I acted as an evangelist for their product (and still do!). I probably brought many customers to them over the years and eventually became a paying customer myself.

A sales mentality may make a short term sale but it won't build a long term relationship. Share on X

Having a sales mentality may lead to a sale in the short-term but it will eventually lead to less happy clients. It will also lead to clients who feel helpless in their journey, and it’s not just customer services job to alleviate that either, it’s the job of every employee along the client journey.

Creating a happy customer begins by helping them feel comfortable and supported even before they become a customer. For this reason, it’s helpful to ditch the sales mentality and adopt the helping mentality.

Try The Helping Mentality

Now we’re moving into the good stuff. The part where clients really benefit and find the value you can offer them. You’re going to build lasting client relationships and bring value to their lives.

You’ve moved away from the sales mentality but something has to fill in. As I mentioned above, the helping mentality is the perfect fit. You’ll eventually get the sale if you’ve taken the time to build trust. Not only will you get the client but you won’t have to compete on price.

Going back to my Buffer journey, even if the competition was cheaper they still earned my business without question of price (within reason). I did my research early on for the best tool and the best user experience which are also two things Buffer excelled in. The user experience is also part of helping people, though. Whoever goes above and beyond to help me succeed is going to earn my trust and business.

If you create awesome content that helps people meet their goals, you’re also going to have some happy clients. Before they’re even doing business with you or paid you a cent your future clients are getting tremendous value. That value you create for them brings them closer to being clients and your relationships will start with really happy clients.

Building lasting client relationships is all about creating happy clients and delivering more value than they’re paying you for. If clients are happy, they’re going to rave about you to others which will bring in more referrals.

Be helpful and you’ll make friends. Being helpful sometimes means you won’t get the client, though. If you make the best recommendation for your client even if that means recommending something you don’t make money from, you’ll build trust.

Do what's best for your client, be helpful, and you will make friends that become fans. Share on X

Do what’s best for the client and the trust you earn will lead to an even better sale further down the road.

You’re helping clients accomplish their goals and putting them at the center of your business. Good for you. You’re on your way to build lasting client relationships but there’s still more to shift so you’re making more friends, not sales.

Sharing Is Caring

You’ve created awesome content to help clients both future and present. That’s a good start but you can’t possibly create enough content to help you client find their way towards your business. Helping means sharing and I don’t mean just sharing your own content.

There is a lot you could share to build lasting client relationships including your content, your knowledge, or something else altogether! Yes, that means you could even share your competition’s content if it will help your client.

The goal is not to trap them in your solution but rather be so helpful that they never want to leave your solution. Helping is helping whether it’s your content or not.

Share what helps them not what helps you, only then will you build lasting relationships. Share on X

It’s important to build lasting client relationships by sharing what helps them, not what helps you. You’ll want to be where your clients are and share information that helps them succeed.

That means understanding what the different social media platforms are all about.

Share What Helps

It’s impossible to create helpful content for every topic unless you have an endless budget. Luckily there is an endless amount of information on the Internet and you may find someone else has already created it.

If you try to rebuild someone else’s content from scratch, you’ll always be playing catch-up. If you’re always playing content catch-up, you’ll never be able to innovate and create new, thoughtful content of your own that answers questions that haven’t been answered.

Good thing it can be easy to re-purpose others content by sharing it directly and adding your own value to it. Adding value to someone else’s content attaches the message to you and has the same effect of building trust with your client’s.

Turned On Light Bulb Illustration

Picture this scenario: You own a business that sells dietary supplements. Someone contacts you trying to figure out a way to lower their cholesterol levels. You don’t have anything of your own to point them towards, but you know of a competitor who does.

You could send them this article with a bit of value added to it to make it your own. You would be highly appreciated for pointing them to great information even if it’s not yours. They’re also going to ask you if you could put together a mix of supplements that would help them meet their health goal.

Stop the sales mentality and move to a helping mentality to grow your business further. Share on X

The sale may not happen that fast but helping people over time will build trust and make you the logical choice for helping them.

Make Friends and Build Lasting Client Relationships

I’ve mentioned in other articles that it’s important to recognize that the acronym ABC (always be closing) isn’t the best way to approach relationships anymore. This is becoming more true every day as people expect to have relationships with the brands they love.

That’s why now, ABH (always be helping) is a more appropriate acronym to live by. Transitioning from a sales mentality into a helping mentality is essential to creating happy clients and building those lasting relationships you need to survive and thrive.

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