Winning work in a competitive environment is time consuming and does not guarantee a return. Rather than using all your resources to chase new customers, it can be more economical to obtain work from existing clients, especially if you once had a good relationship with them. However, this is easier said than done. Organisations often lose contact with clients and find it tough to “get back in”.
So what should you do? How do you get that relationship back on track to provide you with a more reliable stream of work?
As with all things, preparation is key. Before making the call to the client, consider these 6 simple steps to help you re-establish the relationship.
- Key messages
- Follow up
You must be very clear in your mind what you ultimately wish to achieve from the call. Assuming it is business, you need to acknowledge this from the outset.
Remember – it must move you forwards down your route e.g. get a meeting in the diary. Not sideways e.g. “They seemed to like it and promised to get in touch in a couple of weeks.”
2. Key messages
What do you want the recipient to take away from this conversation? What do you want them to think, feel and do?
The following are all important components in opening a call and you need to be able to speak briefly and with confidence.
- Who you are.
- Your organisation.
- Your credibility – e.g. “We’ve been doing some research into………”.
- What you are calling about: It must answer the question for the client – “What’s in it for me?” i.e. How your proposition benefits them, rather than just outlining the features of what you do.
- Establish whether it is convenient for the client to talk now for three or four minutes. If not, when? If they’re interested, they’ll be happy to talk for much longer. If inconvenient now, have specific alternative timings to hand.
Think about how the conversation should flow. What questions do you need to ask? What points do you need the client to acknowledge?
Decide your various courses of action depending on how receptive the recipient is. It may be prudent to stop the conversation and re-arrange to meet.
While you should start the conversation clear on your subsequent actions, these may change as the call progresses. Remain flexible but remember – always try to moveforwards and not sideways.
What are your next steps? Be prepared to react flexibly to follow-up opportunities.