According to Gallup, approximately half of new, American companies fail within the first five years of operation. Obviously, many business failures can be blamed on a number of variables. One issue that negatively affects companies is a lack of professionalism when working with clients. If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur, consider the following ways to build professional, lasting relationships with your existing and future clients.
Develop a Game Plan
Before meeting with a new client for the first time, you need to create a game plan. Appearing unprepared during an initial, client consultation shows a lack of professionalism. To successfully prepare for your meeting, learn everything you can about your prospective client. Ascertain the client’s possible needs. Determine how you can best meet these needs. If applicable, create visuals, charts, and graphs to show your client how your company can solve his or her problems.
Dress for Success
Never meet a client in your favorite pair of worn jeans, a baggy t-shirt, and a pair of dirty sneakers. If you want to impress a new, business contact, you need to dress for success. Depending on the atmosphere at your company, you should dress in formal or casual business attire. Don’t over-accessorize with jewelry. A ring, a watch, and one more piece of jewelry will suffice. Also, don’t forget to properly groom your hair. While wearing makeup is acceptable, you need to keep it natural looking. Leave the green eyeshadow and purple lip-liner at home.
Arrive on Time
When meeting with new clients, arrive on time. Actually, getting to the meeting site a few minutes early is a good idea. Your client will view you as punctual and professional.
Offer a Firm Handshake with a Smile
When you are first introduced to a new client, offer a firm handshake with a smile. Being friendly is one of the cornerstones of professionalism. When speaking to your client, make eye contact. Let him or her know you’re happy to be in his or her company.
Before ending a first meeting with a new client, exchange contacts. Be sure to write down all of your client’s pertinent phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, and social media accounts. Ask your client what modes of communication he or she prefers most. You want to make future communication as convenient and professional as possible for your new client.
When working with clients, you should always display gratitude. Formally thank new clients for meeting with you. You can accomplish this task by writing a sincere note. Depending on the formality of the relationship with your new client, you can either mail or e-mail the note to him or her. Consider periodically rewarding clients with discounts, coupons, and other gestures of appreciation. For instance, you might wish to present regular clients with a holiday gift at the end of every year. If you don’t appropriately appreciate your clients, another company will.
Perhaps, clients value honesty more than any other virtue in a business relationship. When working with a client, never overpromise and under-deliver. Provide definite time frames for projects to be completed within. If a client discovers you don’t keep your promises, he or she will look for someone else to work with. A great way to stay abreast of client deadlines is to practice effective business process management at your company.
Running a successful business is a challenging undertaking. While you certainly can’t control everything that takes place in your company, you can monitor your level of professionalism. Displaying professionalism to new clients might mean the difference between a one-time deal and a lifelong, business partnership. To improve the level of professionalism with your clients, practice the aforementioned, easy tips.