Think of strong client relationships as currency. The more of the right relationships you have the richer you become. It all depends on how you treat those relationships”
One of the most challenging aspects of successful client growth is growing your internal influence, visibility and reputation within your clients business. This can be challenging for a number of reasons. Here are a few noticeable examples of ones you may recognise and others you may not be aware of:
- Lack of wider business reputation means you have less access to the right people
- Unable to provide the right level of value to warrant an introduction
- Unable to determine who the right people are due to complexity of departments
- Your company is part of a much larger network of suppliers solving a particular problem
- You came in at the wrong level and now have to work harder for the referral up
- Too early in the relationship
I’m sure you can name others.
Today’s buying world is vastly different and so are the relationship dynamics and expectations of our clients. It’s no longer your contact that defines the relationship and purchase of your product or service but every stakeholder, influencer and sometimes end user that has an experience of you and your business.
We all have varying experiences when it comes to growth with our existing customers. For the majority of Key Account Managers and sales professionals we have to be patient; set intentional strategies each week to become a person of value, make calls that sometimes don’t get responded to, manage multiple contact agendas, schedule meetings and much more to move to that next step in the relationships with have with our clients. That sound familiar J
One of the most important skills and strategies we need to have to see phenomenal growth is the ability to identify, connect and build strategic relationships. All of this requires knowing more of the right people in and outside of your contacts circle of influence.
The question for us is: What ways are there to identify the right people? build meaningful and influential connections to increase our internal customer visibility, influence and ultimately growth.
I want to focus on 5 things you can do right now to discover high value relationships within your clients business and connect successfully with them. This will require some effort but the rewards will far outweigh the work.
Get to know who’s most important to your contacts world and why
This is where you get to go beyond just understanding what’s most important to your contact and begin to understand who is important to them. How do you do this? Simply be open and honest and ask e.g. “I’m keen to get to know more people in the business so I can really understand how we can offer the greatest value. When you think of key relationships in your business who comes to mind and why?”. Take notes and begin research on LinkedIn.
Find ways to help your contact with those influential to them and you
Once you’ve identified who those people are. Ask how you can help to make the process of sharing information easier with her contacts when working on projects together. Just listen and look for the best place for collaboration with your contact. Key thought here is always assume ideas and proposals you share with your contact will be seen by someone else. Make your messages sellable for anyone in the business to understand the benefit to them and the business.
Study the trends of use of your product or service, what departments use it and benefit most from it. Who are the people involved in helping those employees on the ground?
For every service and product your client is using of you today there are people in your clients business talking about it, saying positive things, complaining or not really thinking about it. That’s just the reality. Raising awareness and being more aware of what is happening will put you in stronger position to expanding your influence. Ask about feedback from the business and if they’d be open to you asking a few select questions with managers. Once you’ve come to an agreement schedule those calls in.
Get to know the managers of the end users of your service. What are the potential challenges they have? Find out how you can help them and who might lead that initiative
Once you’ve understood how people are using your product or service it’s time to get proactive. Have those manager conversations and determine what manager’s support of employees and decisions for their departments. Put together a list and create an email of what you discovered from your conversations and potential ways you could help. Share this also with your main contact so they can follow up on your behalf and benefit from also being seen positively in the process.
Find out what the common strategic connection or goal is for your contact and the people who will need to deploy strategies to achieve those goals for their function.
Perhaps the most powerful part to this process is the process of finding common connection. Your contact and contacts contact’s will be working in different departments, different needs, wants and responsibilities and priorities. Even in that difference there will always be a common thread that links their work to a greater company objective. The one question you can ask to discover this is this:“what is the one goal or priority most important to you and the wider business managers to achieve this year and why”. You simply keep silent and as they articulate this simply say “tell me more?” Repeat the process and you’ll not only get super rich information but a complete strategic view of your clients business and where you can be of most value.
What’s been your experience of trying to increase your reach and influence within your client?
Do you believe multiple of the right relationships make a difference to massive growth?
Leave a comment and have a great week