This article will provide you with helpful tools and tips on how to engage and connect with clients by providing them with value, as well as strategies to stay ahead of bigger businesses. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is about better ways to attract, connect with, and maintain relationships with customers/clients. We all know and understand that building those relationships is key to a successful business – it’s common sense! It can be difficult to actually get those connections to form, though, and trying to figure out the ways to actually DO that can be elusive at best. Creating a structure is one of the best places to start.
How to set up a structure that allows for value-driven relationships
It can be difficult to maintain healthy client relationships while also trying to run a successful business. However, it is important to set up a structure that allows for value-driven relationships. This type of relationship creates a give-and-take situation in which both parties are working together to create mutual success.
There are several key elements to setting up a structure that allows for value-driven relationships:
- Define what you bring to the table. Before you can establish a value-driven relationship, you need to be clear about what your business has to offer. What are your unique selling points? What can you provide that your competitors cannot? Be sure to communicate these things clearly to your potential clients (duh). By clearly articulating your value proposition — that is, what you bring to the table and what you can do for your customers — you’ll have a foundation to start from. If you don’t establish your niche and clearly define your discipline-for-market, none of the rest of this will matter.
- Do your research. Once you know what you have to offer, it’s time to do some research and find out who would be the best fit for your services. Not all businesses are created equal, and not all clients will be interested in what you have to offer. By doing your research upfront, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by targeting the right potential customers from the start. As with all the topics I’m touching on here, there’s a lot more to this. For example: do you create a business selling or doing something that you’ve observed a need for, and then struggle to produce those goods or services? Or, would you rather do something you already know how to do or produce, and then struggle to find customers who need that product or service? (There’s another blog post talking about this concept as well).
- Communicate openly and honestly. It’s easy to be transparent, but it’s not always easy to be vulnerable. I think there is an inherent need for vulnerability in running a microbusiness, and the ability to be vulnerable is directly linked to the ability to create trust. Once you’ve established contact with potential clients, it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with them. Be transparent about your intentions and what you expect from the relationship (I’m using the word “relationship” in the context of “buyer/seller relationship obviously). If there are any concerns or questions on either side, address them immediately. One of the best ways to begin doing this is by making sure that you are being authentic and present in your niche. Publish articles. Write a blog. Put a whole bunch of content on your website. Start a podcast, or be a guest on someone else’s. Give people ways to get to know you, and that will lead to people discovering you.
Price vs Value in Relationships
Next, we need to understand that there are different foundations on which we can build relationships. Value vs price is a common debate when it comes to business, and building relationships on the wrong one can cause problems. Many companies operate on the mindset that the lower the price, the more customers they will attract. However, this is not always the case. In fact, many customers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they feel that they are getting good value for their money. This is where microbusinesses have a clear advantage over larger businesses. We can provide the added value, the extra time, the better customer service, and the better experience. Are we also going to always have the lowest possible price? Absolutely not, and that’s okay.
It’s important to remember that value is not always about price. Value is quite subjective, and can be determined by the quality of the product or service, the customer service experience, the company’s reputation, and many other factors. When companies focus on providing value to their customers, they are more likely to build long-lasting relationships. This is because there are several different types of customers, and they’re not ALL obsessed with buying things at the absolute lowest price (thanks, Amazon). Value buyers and relationship buyers are out there as well, and they’re the ones you need to focus on if you want your microbusiness to succeed. I’ve published content about the various buyer types that exist, so be sure to check that out to learn more about the other types and how they can help (and hurt) your small business.
I really hate the phrase “providing value”, and the word “value” is being incredibly overused in the business world right now. But until I can invent a new expression, here we are. Everyone likes to throw these phrases around, but I’m not sure that everyone understands the true implications. When we say “you need to create value for your clients”, we often mean “you need to give away your time or your products for free”.
This blog is a great example! I am writing to share my thoughts and ideas in hopes that this will help someone somewhere, thereby creating value. But I’m also putting myself out there in the hopes that when someone decides to hire a paid microbusiness coach, they’ll remember the value that I’ve already provided them. When content creators and businesses produce content, they aren’t doing it solely out of the goodness of their hearts – shocking, I know. I think it’s okay to do this as long as we’re transparent about it, and as long as we’re doing it for the right reasons.
Benefits of value driven relationships
When you nurture value-driven relationships with your clients, you create a deeper connection that goes beyond the superficial. You build trust and rapport, which leads to repeat business and referrals. Here are some of the benefits of creating value-driven relationships with your clients:
- Increased loyalty and customer lifetime value. When you focus on creating value for your clients, they are more likely to be loyal to your brand and continue doing business with you. They also tend to spend more money over time, which increases their customer lifetime value.
- Improved communication and collaboration. When you have a strong relationship with your clients, communication is improved. This leads to better collaboration on projects, which can result in improved results for both parties.
- Greater trust and credibility. When you create value for your clients, they begin to trust you more as a business partner. This increased trust can lead to improved sales numbers as well as referrals from happy customers.
How to identify your values and align them with your business
In order to identify your values, it is important to first understand what a value is. A value is defined as a belief that is held by an individual or group about what is right or wrong, good or bad. Values can be based on ethical, moral, religious beliefs, or simply what someone believes is important in life.
After you have a clear understanding of what a value is, you can start to identify your own values as a businessperson. To do this, think about what is important to you in life and work. What do you believe in? What motivates you? What makes you happy? Once you have identified your values, ask yourself how these values align with your business. Do your products or services reflect your values? Do your business practices align with your values? If not, how can you make changes so that your business reflects your personal values?
By aligning your values with your business, you will create deeper relationships with clients who share similar values. When clients see that your business reflects their own personal values, they will be more likely to trust and connect with you on a deeper level. It is important to note that what you value in your business may change over time, and that’s okay.
Customer Service Skills
I firmly believe that EVERY business is in a customer service industry, not just the ones we typically think of like retail, hospitality, or foodservice. Customer service is the act of providing support to customers before, during, and after they purchase a product or service. It is the key to maintaining positive relationships with customers and ensuring they have a positive experience with your company. It’s easy to excel in customer service, and unfortunately it’s equally easy to fail at it. If we fail at basic customer service, none of the rest of what we do will matter.
There are a few key skills that are essential for providing excellent customer service:
- Active listening – This involves really paying attention to what the customer is saying and trying to understand their needs. It’s important to ask clarifying questions and restate what the customer has said to ensure you have accurately understood their concerns. Taking this overboard is a bad thing though; give them time and space to speak. Resist the urge to interject and reply actively to every sentence.
- Empathy – This is the ability to see things from the customer’s perspective and understand how they are feeling. It’s important to be able to empathize with customers in order to provide them with the best possible solution to their problem. How would you feel if you were in their shoes? How would you want to be treated if you were experiencing what your customer is experiencing?
- Patience – Dealing with customers can be challenging at times, so it’s important to be patient and calm when dealing with them. Losing your patience will only make the situation worse and may lead to the customer becoming even more upset. As Jack Nicholson’s character noted in Anger Management, temper is the one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it.
- Communication skills – It’s important to be able to communicate effectively when dealing with… well… anyone, but especially customers or clients. This means being able to explain things in a way that is easy for them to understand, not using a bunch of technical jargon, and not assuming their level of working knowledge. It is tempting to get frustrated when someone doesn’t understand what we’re trying to explain, but remember they’re the ones who came to YOU for help. They didn’t come to you because they already know everything, but they don’t need to be talked down to. One of the number one complaints I hear about small businesses stems from poor communication skills: lack of updating on project status, lack of followup contact, etc.
Without good communication skills, we cannot provide good customer service. Without good customer service, we cannot form good relationships that are value-driven, or anything else-driven for that matter.
When it comes to business, relationships are everything. The most successful businesses are built on a foundation of strong, value-driven relationships with their clients. These relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, and a shared commitment to creating a successful outcome.
Creating a value-driven relationship with your clients is about more than just providing them with great service or products. It’s about connecting with them on a deeper level and understanding their needs and wants. It’s about building a rapport and developing trust. And it’s about always putting their best interests first. Doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.
The bottom line is that if you want to succeed in business, you need to create strong, value-driven relationships with your clients. By doing so, you’ll not only win their loyalty and business, but you’ll also create lifelong connections that will benefit both parties for years to come. When you structure your interactions to create value-driven relationships, and the deliver an unexpected amount of value to your potential customers through outstanding customer service, you’ll win every time.