Without your clients, your business is nothing. As anyone in the sales business knows, that is no overstatement.
Happy clients who love your products or services are the blood that pumps through your company’s veins, and as a result, client management needs to be a key focus of any organization.
A recent report by Adobe asked companies involved in business-to-business (B2) sales to tell them their most exciting opportunity going forward, and customer experience came in first, beating out content marketing, data-driven marketing, video marketing, and social media.
So even if you don’t see yourself as a client manager, maybe it’s time to start.
Your existing customers are an important part of your future growth, so you need to nurture them. Let's talk about how.
Overview: What is client management?
Also called customer relationship management (CRM) or client resource management, client management refers to how a company handles and develops its relationship with customers and clients.
Client management is important for companies because satisfied customers are more likely to buy more products or services from that company, leave positive reviews that will build brand reputation and trust, and bring in new customers either through word of mouth or through a referral program.
Why client management is important for your business
Here are just a few benefits to incorporating effective client management in your B2B marketing strategies, and why you need to make it a priority now:
Your customers will stay customers
If clients are happy, the next time you ask them to re-up their contract and buy the latest version of your product, they’ll be much more likely to do so.
It does little good to do all the work of landing a client only to lose them a few months later because your client management was bad.
They’ll buy more from you
The easiest customer to sell to is a customer you already have. It makes sense. After all, they have already bought from you, so they know and trust you, and they’ve already proven they have an interest in the products you have.
By offering a premium service, product, or upgrade that enhances what they already have, you can turn your clients into super clients.
They’ll bring in new customers
Happy customers bring in new customers a number of ways. They’ll talk about you to their friends and colleagues in a positive way, building trust among people who previously had never heard of you but probably need your product or service.
They’ll also be more likely to refer potential clients if you simply ask. And they are more likely to leave a positive review on a third-party site recommending your business, or provide a testimonial if you ask them.
4 ways to successfully manage your clients
So how do you create that happy client who is going to bring you all this new business? Here are four sure-fire methods to successfully manage your clients.
1. Set expectations
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure expectations are at the right level. You don’t want your client to expect more out of your product and service than you are able to deliver. Be transparent with your client, and always seek to under-promise and over-deliver.
Tips for setting expectations:
Properly setting expectations is all about having strong communication and trust between you and your client.
- Only discuss what you know you can offer. You’ve got a good idea of what your product or service will deliver, as well as some things it might deliver. Don’t bring up the latter. Instead, let your client be pleasantly surprised.
- Ask your client what they expect. Ask your client straight up what they’re expecting. Maybe they expect your software to result in 20% more sales due to increased efficiency. You can use your knowledge of what past clients have enjoyed to let them know if it may take a few months to achieve that.
2. Set up a line of communication
As soon as you complete a sale, it’s time to work on client management and find a good line of communication with your customer. Ask them how they prefer to keep in touch, be it email or phone calls or even a mobile app.
This line of communication will be vital to checking in with your client and helping them through any challenges.
Tips for setting up a line of communication:
Figuring out how to communicate with your client comes down to communication.
- Just ask them. Whether they tell you email or phone or something else, record it in your notes on the client so you’ll remember when it comes time to reach out.
- Be flexible. How you want to communicate is not very important in this situation. You must communicate in the mode that your client is comfortable with, or you risk losing them.
3. Reach out
Don’t wait for your client to complain — reach out every week or two, especially soon after the purchase, to make sure everything is going well and they are using the product. The client will appreciate that you took the time to contact them, and you can head off any issues that could cost you future sales at the pass.
Tips for reaching out:
Reaching out is all about making clients feel at ease about choosing you, and about developing relationships in a way that will pay off for everyone.
- Be positive. Always contact the client with the belief that they are loving your product. If you have doubt in what you’re offering, it will creep into your voice and your client will sense it.
- Ask if there is any way you can be of service. Don’t ask if there’s a problem even if you sense there is. Ask in a way that suggests they can always reach out to you for anything.
4. Make recommendations
When you’ve got a new product or service you think your client would be interested in, don’t be afraid to contact them and make some recommendations. Rather than be annoyed with this as a sales technique, most clients will appreciate that you thought of them.
Tips for recommendations:
View yourself not as a salesperson but as a consultant who is going to help the customer solve a problem when you make recommendations.
- Flesh out their needs some more. Upselling to a current client is easier than selling to a new customer, but you still need to show that you care about their situation by asking a little bit about any additional needs they have.
- Show genuine excitement. If you have a new product or service you genuinely think they’d benefit from, be excited about it rather than timid about asking for another sale.
Client management pitfalls to avoid
Learning how to manage clients can be tricky. It’s important to remember some major pitfalls you can fall into when trying to act as a client project manager. Here are three of the most common to watch out for.
Pitfall #1: Not prioritizing clients
Salespeople are busy, and the pressure to bring in new customers is constant. Many salespeople don’t schedule enough time for reaching out and developing relationships with clients.
As a result, clients either leave for competitors or the salesperson misses vital opportunities to upsell.
Pitfall #2: Not listening to clients’ needs
It’s easy to forget that a salesperson always needs to be listening to a clients’ needs, not just the first time around when making the pitch. A salesperson who simply tries to upsell without having meaningful conversations with their clients won’t develop those lasting customer relationships that are vital to a thriving business. Instead, listen first and prescribe later.
Pitfall #3: Not being organized
Salespeople who rely on spreadsheets and don’t use CRM software are often disorganized and as a result lose touch with clients they’ve already sold. You need a software option that can keep clients front and center and alert you when it’s time to reach out. It can make a big difference in sales revenues.
Client management can be the best part of sales
Far from being a chore, salespeople should approach client management as one of their most important activities. It’s fulfilling to feel like you are creating deep relationships with clients and helping them solve their biggest problems.
It’s also good for the company, as loyal customers build a foundation for long-term financial help. And it’s just easier to talk about your products and services with people you already know and who know you.
So carve out some more time in the day to reach out to your current clients more, and it will pay dividends.
The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends HubSpot and Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool recommends Adobe Systems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.