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Managing the Relationship

March 10, 2010

I recently was reading an article about diversification of your client base in the March 2010 issue of INC. magazine.  In this article, it essentially warned businesses to not heavily rely on a single client for the majority of your revenue.  A few years ago, one of my clients actually had to shut down their operation because their largest customer – about 95% of their revenue – decided to move their business elsewhere.  I was fortunate to be able to move “elsewhere” with their customer and as a result got a better client, but most companies are not so lucky.   The most important thing I learned from this experience is also discussed in the article – you have to manage your relationships and show the client how you can continually add value. 

There are several articles/books about how to manage a client relationship when things are not going well, but my thought is that this is too late.  You need to start from the very beginning of the relationship.  Find out what are the “hot topics” for your client and see if they are in areas that you can help provide guidance and expertise.  If you are not “in front” of your client – adding value to their business, they will seldom hesitate to “cut” you from the expenses when they are looking to reduce costs.  Also, don’t wait to say thank you to your clients until the traditional “end of the year” gift giving.  Oftentimes there are so many gift baskets and cards coming through the office at the end of the year, your thank you may go unnoticed. 

Remember, if you can do anything to help your client business move forward eventually they will come to you asking for your involvement in other areas of the business that you may otherwise never get the opportunity to work in.   As much as you like to receive excellent customer service – your clients do too!



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