I had a lawyer for many years who taught me a lot about engaging with clients. Every month or so I would receive a letter with an article that was very relevant to me, ripped out of a magazine or newspaper, along with a personal note from my lawyer, saying something along the lines of "I saw this and thought of you, hope you find it interesting and helpful. Cheers - Tom."

I was always nicely surprised when yet another note arrived, and they were always unexpected. And most importantly, I was extremely grateful. My lawyer made me feel valued as a client, he was interested in what I did and he cared enough to take the time to actually find and read an article, cut it out and forward it to me, with all of the hassle associated with posting a letter.

Now forward a few years. It's become much easier to do this. We all read a great deal and we all see things that are probably very relevant to our clients. Forwarding articles or information that you think might be helpful or of interest is easy, and the perfect way to show that you actually do care about your customers and clients. There are of course a few rules:

  • We have to be genuinely interested in our clients.
  • We have to take the time to get to know our clients and this means asking better questions.
  • We have to be on the lookout for ways to help them all of the time.
  • We need to be prepared to do this selflessly, not just as a way to get business.
  • We need to connect in positive ways like this rather than just contacting them to sell them something or waiting for them to contact us.
  • Be prepared to send them information or ideas that you find for both work related topics as well as things they might be interested in outside of work.
  • Watch your timing - sending them something every day is probably too much, after all, who has the time, but every few weeks is perfect.

I've got a few clients of mine who do this with me. Now they pay me for my services, yet they are the ones who send me articles that they come across that they think I'll will find interesting and helpful - and I'm incredibly grateful to them for doing this and I definitely go above and beyond the call of duty for them. Now I know they are being very genuine in their actions, our relationship as a whole is much stronger, so we both win.

Way too many people spend no time building relationships in business. They only make contact to sell something and after a while, the person on the buying end can start to feel a little resentful. I think that we all need to take a long term approach to building strong relationships with our customers, which means we need to invest time and energy.

But who has the time to do this? Only the smartest and most successful of sales people and business owners in my opinion. In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive, we need to spend as much time and energy maintaining relationships with our existing customers as we spend on the hunt for new ones. A simple thought that is commonly overlooked meaning it is the perfect opportunity for the rest of us.