Often the terms “tough times,” “slow times,” and “uncertain times” create a pessimistic feeling, but they can easily be seen as an opportunity. Yes, times are changing, and business models are shifting, but the relationship you establish right now with your clients and prospects will define your organization in the future.
How can you genuinely maintain relationships with clients and prospects? Whether it’s being proactive or adjusting your marketing strategy, all it takes is innovation, effort, and willingness to do so.
4 Ways to Protect Client Relationships
1. Demonstrate Empathy
Being empathetic shows clients and prospects you’re more invested in their interests and well-being than closing a deal—and that’s what will set you apart in today’s changing sales landscape.
Beth Sunshine, VP of Talent Services, explains it best:
When a sudden shift in the economy occurs, and our lives are thrown into turmoil, human nature leads many of us to feel we should give clients space. Because we care about our clients, we start thinking, “I don’t want to bother them,” “I’ll give them some time,” or “the last thing they need right now is someone trying to sell them something.”
Empathy is nice, but it’s not going to help anyone. Those that truly care about their clients should reach out and let them know! There are many ways to do that:
- Send a simple email or text to ask how they’re doing
- Serve as a conduit, connecting business leaders to share ideas and best practices
- Help them consider how they can market their company in a totally different way to appeal to customers right now
- Give them information related to their business or industry that will be of value
- Share something that has put a smile on your face recently—an inspirational quote, funny videos, uplifting song
To be of value right now, you need to behave as a true partner and business consultant, with the ultimate goal of helping them weather this storm.
2. Adjust Marketing Strategies
It seems counterintuitive to talk about marketing strategies when you’re uncertain of how the economy is going to affect business. However, now is the time to evaluate your marketing strategy and make necessary adjustments.
“An economic slowdown is the perfect time to schedule a Marketing Strategy Model meeting with a Key account,” Senior Consultant Trey Morris states. “The world has changed. Will your client be ready when the starting gun goes off? If you wait until we have "restarted" economy, it will be too late.”'
3. Create Valuable Content
Drawing on nearly 40 years of experience in sales, business practices, and customer-focused selling, we have never had more questions from our clients. This is your opportunity to show your expertise and offer your advice and information rather than engage in a sales conversation.
Create content that answers your client’s and prospects' questions before they’re asked.
Dean Moothart, Director of Client Solutions, advises to:
- Provide valuable information to people who are scrambling
- Educate your market
- Share your unique point-of-view
- Become a trusted resource
- Become a thought leader
When normalcy returns, clients and prospects will remember the value you provided. You will be the one they trust and the organization they call when they ramp back up.
4. Respond to Their Concerns
Despite our changing environment, most basic crisis communication remains the same. It’s essential to communicate often, openly, and honestly with clients. Voice empathy and compassion when appropriate, and take control of your positioning. Always focus on how you can help your client.
An economic slowdown is not the time for silence, but it’s also not the time to flood emails with paragraphs of information. Take time to strategize and really know your client. Be proactive in helping them find solutions to their problem and return phone calls and emails immediately.
There is a lot of business that is absolutely in your control. It’s up to you to make sure you're taking care of your clients, letting them know that they’re important and that you’re going to help them overcome business challenges.
Check out our blog post, Pay attention to Your Best Customers, to learn five things you can do right now to make your clients feel like you care about them.
*Editor's Note: This blog has been updated since its original posting.