I’m writing this to all the recruiters, sales professionals, account managers and customer service professionals who rely on client loyalty and sometimes take it for granted.
Have you ever been surprised when you received an email from someone whom you thought was your client thanking you for your services, but stating they have now switched suppliers?
Or how about the letter indicating they have chosen another vendor and the agreement they had with you will be ending on the 31st of this month?
You’re stunned. This seems like a cold and distant message for parting ways, but perhaps in fact it is YOU who have become distant.
In your head, this was a loyal client – you had served them well. You say to yourself, how could they do this to me?
Instead you should be thinking: how could I have done this to me?
Ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time I personally visited this client and the people I know there; how about the decision makers themselves – when did they last hear from me?
- Have I been proactive by introducing something new to them or forwarding something I thought they would find interesting. Was it my habit to just be reactive to their needs or concerns? Did I wait for them to call me, or see an email in my inbox?
- When was the last time I shared data or analytics with the client that demonstrated cost savings associated with my service or provided usage reports on how they were using my service?
- What was the last greeting they got from me, be it seasonal, personal or relevant to something you saw they posted in their social media feed or a recent press release? Do you follow your clients on all their social media venues?
There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t take your banker to lunch when you need them; take them when you don’t.” Simply put, develop consistent personal rapport with them when you are not in need of their business or money.
Clients must always feel that you are thinking about them and how you can improve the service/s you provide to them. This is how they truly believe you are their supplier and that you value their business. You want to make it a difficult decision for them to change suppliers if they should ever contemplate such a move – and if they do, make sure you and your company are given the opportunity to be part of the process to retain their business as in participating in an RFP. (There’s nothing worse than to miss a bid solicitation on an existing client!)
Here are some ideas of how to stay top of mind with clients:
- Curate articles and studies about their industry and send to them without asking for new business – just letting them know you saw it, thought of them and believe it might be of interest.
- Keep them current about trends or changes in the workplace such as new laws being introduced (like the ban on asking pay history questions), or hot topics on talent acquisition, diversity, leadership, employee engagement and so on.
- When you are working on a search for them and you haven’t yet identified the right candidate, stay in touch anyway advising them that you and your staff are actively working on their needs. Don’t hide for lack of results – that just makes them think they are not a priority.
- Introduce them to opportunities to check out other vehicles that might help their business or processes or save them money or time. Here at LLoyd, we introduce value add services such as a vendor management platform, recruiter-on-demand programs and other things they might not be aware are offered.
- Invite them to seminars or events given by your firm or ask them to be your guest at a networking event.
- If your firm publishes a digital or print newsletter, add them to the circulation list. We put clients on our Sunday Reader list, which offers curated content relevant to leadership, hiring and workplace issues. This online publication arrives each week at the same time and keeps our firm’s name visible, while offering informative and educational news stories.
- Does your firm offer amenities like tickets to a sporting event or concert? Give them to your client and tell them they are free to use them personally or use as an employee appreciation reward/raffle to a valued member of their team.
Practicing and implementing all of the above is a proactive way to be a vendor of choice. As recruiters and sales professionals, it is our responsibility, to create the relationship between client and vendor. It is just as important to do this when you aren’t actively doing business with them, as when you are conducting a search. Show time and respect for your client and you won’t have to worry about their disappearing business.