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How to make your company an irreplaceable partner in 3 steps

4 min read

Small Business

Many companies think they’re building relationships with clients, but until they sink multiple hooks into an organization, the relationship is volatile. The deeper the connection with your customer, the longer it is likely to last.

And, of course, losing existing relationships is costly, considering the second dollar you earn from a client is always more profitable than the first. In fact, the cost of acquiring new customers versus returning customers is six times higher.

However, when you delight your clients, meet their needs and cultivate deep relationships, those clients will be happy to pay your prices.


Why you need more connections

If your sole contact leaves, who else in the company will understand your value? If the old contact wasn’t clearly explaining or documenting it, then your new contact might find it difficult to understand why your company and his should continue a relationship.

And if only one person knows you and what you can do, other departments or leaders in the organization might hire someone else to do something you’re perfectly capable of.

Additionally, spending time walking the halls of your client’s office could potentially lead to new work. Bumping into people and having conversations can easily lead to, “Can you help me out with this project?”

For example, many agencies I work with regularly embed employees in their clients’ offices for a few days a week. That face time creates a depth of service and provides the chance to mine for new opportunities. It’s the ultimate in having multiple relationships.

How to get in deeper

If you find yourself with a single relationship within a company, the following tips can expand your influence and ensure you’re never left in the dust.

1. Get the leaders at the table.

To “get in” with leadership, ask for a seat at the table and make a name for yourself. I’ve found it helpful to add value to the meeting by contributing useful information. However, I’ve also seen people ask question after question, which means they’re only taking value, not contributing it. It’s a delicate balance, but meeting the leaders of companies you work with is worth the effort.

2. Do some digging.

Instead of simply requesting data or documents from the people you work with, consider interviewing department heads or key personnel every year with the goal of understanding the business better. When I’ve done this, I have not only learned more about the businesses, but also created relationships. Once the introductions are done, stay in touch by being helpful throughout the year. You might send articles or invite them to events you think they might enjoy.

3. Expand your feedback loop.

To prevent the value of your work being overlooked, create a review team from within the client’s company so that employees aside from your main contact view your work. Including the organization’s leaders will ensure your work is aligned with the overarching goals of the organization (not just the department or person you work for).

In my case, being positively reviewed by leadership has demonstrated the value of my work and has led to more opportunities.

It’s tempting to stick with what and whom you know, but by limiting your relationships, you cap your potential profits. Take the time to get to know leaders within your client’s company and create lasting relationships. Those relationships will prove more valuable than you might think.

Drew McLellan leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through agency owner peer networks, consulting, workshops, and more.

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