Reconnect with your clients and continue to build and strengthen the relationship.
It's easy to take a longtime customer for granted--you both know what to expect from the relationship, and deliverables are well established. But over time, your client's situation may have changed in ways you're not aware of. They may have shifted priorities or developed new strategies. A periodic review can realign your mission with those changing needs. Here's how do conduct one:
Do your research. Before you sit down with a client, try to anticipate some of the issues they'll raise. Have they recently undergone a major change, such as an acquisition? Do they have a new CEO? Are they entering a new line of business you may be able to help them with? You should also review the relationship itself: Are they buying more or less from you? Have they had any service complaints? How can you better serve their ongoing business?
Ask questions and listen. Your goals for the meeting are simple: You want to assess your client's current situation, review their long-term objectives and provide a plan to meet those objectives. Most important, you want to hear their perspective on these points. You don't want to offer unsolicited advice, nor do you want to turn the encounter into a sales meeting. Asking direct, open-ended questions is the best way to elicit the answers you need.
Assess the current situation. Begin by asking where their company stands in the here-and-now. How has the past year been for them? What obstacles did they face and overcome? Use your research to draw out specifics. By starting with broader questions before drilling down toward topics that touch on your relationship, you may uncover information that could provide new or expanded opportunities. Finally, review your performance on any milestones or goals you'd previously set.
Find out where they're going. Discuss what strategic initiatives they have in mind for the future: Have they changed since last you spoke? How can you help achieve them?
Develop an action plan. The last phase of the meeting is to discuss how you plan to address any of the issues raised that you can materially impact. You needn't conclude with concrete proposals, but you should have a clear idea of deliverables to follow up with later. This would also be a good opportunity to (diplomatically) raise any issues of concern you have, as well as suggest ways to grow your relationship, if appropriate.
Once the meeting adjourns, your work begins. Follow up is crucial, as is meeting any commitments you made during the meeting. By realigning what you deliver with what your client is most in need of, you?ve made it clear that their success is yours as well, and hopefully for a good, long time.
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