In the aftermath of the recession and through the ensuing financial difficulties faced by many companies, the commercial landscape has never been as competitive as it is today.
For this reason, it is arguably more important than ever that when it comes to securing contracts, firms need to hold on to every available source of revenue by nurturing those business relationships.
So, when dealing with clients, what are some of the best tactics for keeping a smile on their faces … and, hopefully, money in your coffers?
A positive professional relationship works in two directions. While you need to do your utmost to instil in your client a sense of trust and confidence in your services, you too need to treat them with the same deference.
From the very beginning of your time working together and regardless of the sector in which you work, set out a clear strategy from the outset, identifying what responsibilities will lie with you, what they can anticipate from you and what you will expect of them. If you start as you mean to go on, both you and your client should be able to look forward to a positive and dedicated working relationship.
Fostering a culture of mutual respect will facilitate a far more professional and fluid working relationship than one that is one-sided, which will benefit both parties.
Going the extra mile
When you have international clients, it can take a little more effort on your part to keep them happy, primarily because you have compounding issues like languages barriers and time differences to factor into operations.
This is where companies specialising in international business could be able to help out, as they can provide the niche solutions you may need. Whether you need to do business in a more widely spoken language, such as French or German, or perhaps one that is less so, these experts will be able to fill the gaps in your expertise and help to safeguard your working relationship with your client.
Once you have the language aspect covered, you may find yourself having to schedule meetings for unsociable hours. Well, it may be unsociable for you, but it won’t be for your client on the other side of the world and it is these small touches that do not go unnoticed.
Furthermore, take into account any cultural differences. For example, consider the country in which your client is based and don’t set tight deadlines around religious holidays that may affect both their work and personal life.
It’s not you, it’s me
Inevitably and as with all relationships, you are likely to hit rocky patches. If you anticipate what these may be, you can come up with a game plan long before they have even happened.
Work out all of the potential problems you may encounter with this client, ascertain which issues would put you at fault and where the client might make life difficult for you and come up with a contingency plan.
Even if things go wrong, if you can show your client that you are prepared for all eventualities, that mutual trust and confidence that you have worked so hard so build up can still be maintained in the face of adversity.
Taking all of these things into account, there is no reason why you should not be very happy together.