How should you develop relationships with clients so that they see you as a partner rather than just a supplier of products?
It’s a question that many account managers ask often, because they try to establish relationships with clients in such a way that price or delivery is less important than the closeness and partnership they can establish with the client.
How can you do it?
There are four stages you can do to develop closer partnerships with clients.
They are Assess, Explore, Initiate and Commit.
When assessing what the needs are of the client, you are engaging and connecting with them.
It’s the initialising of the relationship, and when you start to build the relationship you are assessing what they value, what they consider to be important and what they need to do to be successful.
You are evaluating and measuring the important aspects of the prospect’s business.
You create opportunities to advance the relationship from transaction toward partnership.
Next stage is
The exploration stage builds on the assessment of the business opportunities you have uncovered in the first stage.
This stage helps in building the relationship by analysing questions, listening to their answers, creating different directions for the account and finding solutions the buyer wouldn’t have been able to find themselves.
This means delving deep into buying motivations and identifying what will be the key drivers of the business and their decision-making processes.
Initiating something means taking action, starting in a new direction and making progress.
After assessing and exploring, the initiating of action involves helping the business to progress and deliver results.
As soon as this happens, the decision makers in the business start seeing the value you can offer them and the relationship hits a new level.
That action may be something as simple as providing assistance for marketing support, or helping them deliver specific products to their customer base.
Whatever it is, it should progress the relationship so the client sees there is progress to be gained by buying into your company.
This fourth stage involves both you and the client feeling compelled to achieve more by making decisions to progress.
It could be agreeing to buy certain products or saying yes to a further meeting with stakeholders.
Whatever the commitment or pledge that is made, this too enables the relationship to go to the next level.
As soon as you and the client feel committed to each other, something clicks.
It goes from supplier of products and services to partnership.
This partnership can supersede all other competitive offers and can be utilised when you are endeavouring to progress in the relationship with the account.
You can analyse all your accounts and decide where you are positioned with each of them.
You can then determine what has to happen to progress with them and drive them towards a partnership relationship.