The best method for success with your marketing message is to present yourself as a friendly colleague who is an expert in your field. Consider how you filter the messages your inbox each morning. The messages that are from people you like are probably at the top of your list. Also, many of us have learned from this recession that building relationships becomes even more critical when the economic landscape changes.

The time you spend developing your personal connections with your clients helps to bolster your reputation when they have to evaluate what will not fit in their budget.

Assume everyone tries to avoid salespeople

To counteract the average person’s aversion to being sold, you need personalize your offer and engender trust. Focus on helping them accomplish their goals and not just low prices or other financial benefits you might provide. Your clients want to feel like they know you, and the more you can do to develop your relationship the more likely they will hire you, the more loyal they will be and the less likely they will shop around.

Your clients should be able to tell great stories about you and your extraordinary talent. However, your “extraordinary” behavior should be standard in order to easily build trust and loyalty. Think about some of your favorite retailers or products. There is probably more than one story or reason why you are enamored with the company or you wouldn’t consider them a favorite. A single great experience does not make for long-term loyalty.

Anticipate typical questions

Understand the questions that clients and investors might have – or even questions they don’t know they have yet to set yourself apart from your competitors. The answers you provide to questions and concerns from clients and investors can make or break your biggest relationships, so you have to be ready. Design your services around the needs of their clients and answering important questions they have about your business. You don’t have to be psychic to do this—if you have been working in your field more than a few weeks you know what common questions you hear repeatedly.

Use personalized follow-up methods

The number one reason you will lose a customer is their feeling of indifference. Clients start looking elsewhere when they feel unappreciated and commoditized. This can easily be solved by having a simple follow up system in place. Follow up regularly via phone or email and make a point of scheduling coffees and lunches to check in personally with your most important clients. Developing a system such as this one with 7 steps, will increase your chances of success and impress your clients.

Cultivating relationships with your best clients involves ongoing, consistent communication that offers value. Whatever method you choose be sure you are considering whether you are actually conversing or if you’re just broadcasting a generic message into a black hole.

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