It’s true that first impressions count; but so do last impressions. With a business client you have to ensure you get off on the right foot, deliver excellent service all down the line, and leave them more than satisfied, happy to give you a recommendation or work with you again. However, there’s more to making a good impression than just doing a good job, and these can be as important in establishing a long-term business relationship.
Go the extra mile
Don’t promise more than you can deliver, but do your best to deliver more than you promise. Failing to live up to your initial pitch will hurt you and your company’s reputation. Always be honest if you can’t do something. If you might be able to do it, don’t make any guarantees but do your best anyway. Impressing clients isn’t about promising them the moon; it’s about managing expectations, and then exceeding them when possible.
Every client is different
Do your research and tailor your approach accordingly. Consider the client’s individual requirements, experience and status. Bear in mind too that clients from different cultural backgrounds may have different expectations as to how they should be treated. Respecting this will stop you from making a social faux-pas.
The personal touch
Contacting important clients directly, meeting them face to face and offering them unique deals are all good ways to impress. Remember names and any personal details they might mention, such as the name of a partner or child, so that you can ask after them at the next meeting. Be punctual and handle any conflicts gracefully. Above all, never burn your bridges; you never know when you might be working with someone again, so always part on good terms.
Treat them well
It’s good to push the boat out sometimes, by taking a client to a meal in a stylish restaurant or sealing a deal with a bottle of champagne. At the same time you don’t want to come over as desperate or overly flash, so make sure any extravagance is appropriate to the situation. Small gifts can sometimes be a winning touch, and even a small company with a modest budget can make an effort and show that they appreciate a client’s custom. Brandy glasses convey the right note of purpose, sophistication and luxury, and can be easily engraved with a company logo or other message.
Make a positive impression on everyone in your client’s office, right down to the junior staff members and particularly on his or her secretary. Try to make a point of finding out everyone’s names, and using them. Similarly, everyone in your office should present a friendly, professional attitude to everyone who walks through your door. They should be ready and able to offer them anything they need, from information to refreshments.
Making the right impression can have a multitude of positive benefits. Not only will it get you more work in the short term, it will give your company a strong reputation for excellent service that can only help it grow. Being seen as a friendly, easy company to work with is almost as important as doing first-class work. Mastering both is the key to success.