I am constantly working with clients on their communication skills and one question I am repeatedly asked is “How to keep in touch with clients and contacts”, particularly if you haven’t been in contact with them for a while (over a year). Often my clients have delivered piece of work and would like to maintain the business relationship but have ceased to keep in contact. Here are some actions you can do to maintain contact.
First of all, you should already have in place some sort of CRM system: I use Connectably. This is a Client Relationship Management database. If you have clients and prospects, every single one should be put in there. You can add information about when you met them; subsequent meetings; what they were interested in discussing; the whole sales journey and what you sold them, if anything. Any communication: meetings, phone calls, delivering work, seeing them at a network event should be recorded in there. But if you have a good system, you should be able to set reminders to maintain contact with them. For example, if you know they require annual services, contact them 3 months before to check if they want to go ahead again as a matter of routine. If you aren’t doing this now, start!
But what happens if you don’t already have this in place, and have let a client relationship fade away for over a year? Some of my clients feel awkward about contacting these people again. But this is a time to start re-establishing the business relationship. Picking up the phone; sending an email; checking to see if they are attending a business industry event or even sending updated information about your company’s services are a good way to start a conversation again.
Here are some useful ideas for re-establishing and maintaining business relationships
Whenever you have met someone; had an enquiry or referral, contact the person within 24 hours. This shows how reliable you are. Follow up with a Linkedin request (personalise the request). Then have in place a number of ways you can contact this person over the next few months. This could include arranging to have a chat; some of the ideas below or even checking if they are attending a specific business event.
Who else is in the area? If I am doing work in a specific area, I will always check who else I know in the area. This is a great excuse to email, text or call to see if they would be free to meet for a quick coffee or lunch.
I also have a philosophy of not having coffee or lunch alone if I am out and about. Of course with the COVID19 crisis it is different, but I arrange ‘virtual coffee’ with clients and contacts to maintain contact with them; share ideas; let them know what I’m doing. Before lockdown, I would check who I could invite for lunch or coffee or even do a Social Media post “I am in xxxxxx today. Does anyone want to meet for coffee?” It can re-establish the relationship and remind them you are there!
The “I saw this and thought of you” contact. Whenever you see a relevant article; podcast or video, I will always consider who I could send it to. Remember to go through your database and check if there is someone you haven’t contacted recently and send them an article! It is a great way for them to remember you!
Each week, book some time to pick up the phone and call a couple of people in your network. Check how they are; this is not a sales call but keeping them in mind. Conversations are really interesting; referrals, ideas, leads. It is about them though.
Remember there is real power in referring and introducing people in your network to each other. It is a very powerful business skill and subconsciously they will both be grateful to you for the introduction.
Make sure you keep your Linkedin profile (or other social media platform if this is more appropriate for your business) up to date. There are people I worked with 12 and 10 years ago, who have been in contact with me since Lockdown and wanted me to deliver some work for their businesses. Had I not been active and visible, they might not have thought of me for this work.
In the end business relationships are about building trust; have the focus on them, not on selling your services. How can you help them; do they need any introductions to other people? Do they need any ideas?
If you would like to have a chat with me about how to have conversations with contacts, why not book a time.