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Building Client Relationships and Referrals That Last for a Lifetime

It’s no secret that generally the most valuable and profitable clients are those with whom you develop a close relationship over time. But how do you develop that client relationship?

When I make a new personal friendship, it often starts by meeting them at a party, at church, at the gym, at a business event or at any other number of daily life events. That friendship is then built over time, based on getting to know each other, finding common interests that create likeability, and developing trust between each other.

Building relationships with a client is very similar to building personal relationships. After two companies or two parties agree to do business, if you are intentional, you can create a level of comfort, which will allow for the relationship to blossom. The relationship won’t necessarily grow into the type where the businesses or their families get together at the holidays (although sometimes that happens). But it certainly can generate a level of care and long term respect for each other – which will pay off in the long run.

Sales master Harvey Mackay has a list of 66 details he requires his salespeople to collect about clients over time. He not only wants his salespeople to learn information required to do business; he wants them to learn personal information about them as well. Personal details such as birthdays, whether they are married, whether they have children, and even the names of their spouse and children. Over the course of the relationship, this information will be used to have a continuing conversation, and in turn to develop trust and long-lasting likeability. You can download a copy of the MacKay 66 here.

My father was incredibly well liked in the printing industry, both in the U.S. and around the world. He was in the industry for over 25 years and developed relationships with hundreds of people. When he passed away, the owner of the company he worked for rented three limousines for the funeral. Not only did his coworkers want to attend his funeral, many of the clients my father had worked with for years also wanted to pay their respects. He was a man of great integrity. He had an ability to connect with people and make them feel important and cared for, no matter what their position was. It became apparent on the day of his funeral!

One of the platforms Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, built his enormous networking organization on is the principal that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Show your client you honestly care about them. Always have the mindset of, “What can I do for you?” and display that behavior proudly. Get to know your clients well. Help them in any way you can. And make them feel important. In time, they will want to see you, spend time with you, and continue to buy from you.