Winning with Client Relationships
For over 3 years, from 2009-2012, entrepreneur Alexander Djerassi was special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department and now serves as Chief Public Servant and Policy Officer at Mos.com.
If there is one thing Djerassi learned, is his somewhat dual role in both affairs of state and working at a large, public enterprise company is that a substantial part of success and failure, in either case, is client relationships.
If you don’t have a relationship with one another, and by that, meaning a relationship which you can build on and develop over a few years, most of your plans and actions are a sort of “Disneyland” fantasy in your own mind.
Without not only stating your own case but being able to get to the bottom of what a client, (whether a country or a business wants) you really don’t have much but hope and blind faith to go on.
There are many ways to foster client relationships, but perhaps the number 1 objective is to understand exactly what your client wants, and it’s more complicated than simply asking them.
Throughout most state department negotiations, of which Alexander had a direct hand in while at the State Department, Alexander Djerassi learned that if it were solely up to an individual state leader, many international disagreements would be smooth sailing.
However, just as in the United States, and so too in other countries, often there are sizable interactions such as opposition from the military, which will force the leader to be cautious.
The same in business. A CEO and his spokesmen may want to agree, but there may be powerful board members that are opposed.
So understanding all of the dynamics, not just a few, is essential in client relationships.
Another avenue that is very important is maintaining open communications. Early on in any client negotiations, find out who are the key players you should be dealing with, and then regularly, keep them informed. Use chat, email, telephone calls, and in-person meetings to keep the flow of communication going.
Next, and we cannot emphasize this enough, is going beyond your client’s expectations.
If you are talking about de-escalating military arms in a country, then offer to send a team of experts to show the country exactly how to do it, and couple de-escalation with foreign aid.
If we are talking about business clients, if you sell a company a service such as a website, don’t just send over the files, offer to go to the company, and train anyone necessary involved in how to navigate fully how the website operates.
Going above and beyond is such a rare experience, that a business (or a country) rarely experiences, that even a small sale can lead to a lifetime relationship with that business.
In addition, solicit feedback from your clients. This is another thing that companies rarely do, and it can make all of the difference. If a company buys your software for example, which can do 20 different things, but it is so complicated that the company can only figure out how to do 3 things, then you have a problem, which you need to correct.