Last year, I wrote a blog post entitled, ‘The number one reason why you lose clients? Arrogance!’ It was one of the most read posts in all of 2021. Today I want to write about reason #1A – and the one I hear about more than any other reason for the loss of clients – complacency! And the story (err… excuse!) goes something like this… “We had a great relationship with [insert Fortune 500 company name here]… and they were a great client for several years… but then our main contact left and we lost the business.”
Happens all the time… especially with larger clients. And when that happens, don’t blame your client or your contact. Look in the mirror – YOU messed up! YOU built a great relationship with just one contact. YOU got comfortable with him or her being your only champion inside their company. And YOU didn’t take the time to build other relationships at the company. So, when your contact left, YOU didn’t have a Plan B.
Sure, maybe your champion took you with them to their new employer. Or maybe not. But the real issue is that you lost a long-standing, good client because you got complacent.
Don’t Let That Happen Again
So, how do you keep that from happening again (and, I promise, it will!)? Get to know others in the client organization, then go about building relationships with them. Yes, it sounds simple… and it is. But it ain’t easy!
First, think about the ‘ecosystem’ you’re dealing with. You need to develop relationships with:
- Those that your contact works with in his or her department, including those who reports to your contact and those they report to.
- Who they work with in other departments (e.g., if your contact works in Consumer Insights, who do they work with in Marketing or on the Brand team or in Purchasing?).
Then, the question becomes, how do you get to know these other folks?
- Start with your contact and ask for introductions – either via email or in person when you’re visiting.
- Connect with these new contacts on LinkedIn; then, every time you post something and they see it, it’s a reminder about you. And if they post something, engage with it.
- Make sure they are all added to your firm’s database, so they receive your monthly e-newsletter.
- Host a lunch-n-learn and invite them all. Better yet, host a series of lunch-n-learns over time. At these sessions, these new contacts will start to get to know you and get to experience your knowledge and expertise. Note: these cannot be ‘sales pitches,’ but rather informational sessions.
- Visit them – in person – as often as you can. Chat with them 1-to-1, over coffee. Take them out to dinner. Being connected on LinkedIn and presenting a remote lunch-n-learn are great things to do… but nothing builds relationships like spending some quality time, face-to-face.
- Overtime, make sure you stay in touch on a regular basis… send them links to articles you think they’ll like, drop a note on LinkedIn when it’s their birthday or work anniversary, send a handwritten ‘thank you’ note after a project, etc.
Get Started Now
Selling Principle #2 states that, ‘Buyers won’t buy from you until they get to know you… then like you… then trust you.’ And that takes time. So, get started on building these other relationships today… before your key contact leaves and it’s too late.