Like most teams, Social Tribe has spent the first weeks of the year firming up business strategies, outlining goals and benchmarks, and otherwise planning how to take over the world in 2017. A lot of this groundwork has engendered some serious reflection on our journey as a company. Over the last seven years, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds, and fact is that the vast majority of our new business comes from referrals. Why? Clients love working with us and as a result, they are confident in recommending us to their peers, partners, customers and contacts.
When prepping for a team orientation I led in January, I challenged myself to put pen to paper to clearly articulate what sets Social Tribe apart from other agencies. At the risk of divulging what is damn near intellectual property for us, I’m sharing with you the primary components of our business philosophy, which at its core is the secret to our sauce. These qualities and characteristics are the reason our clients love working with us.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m gifting you something a lot more valuable than See’s chocolates and red roses; this checklist is a tried-and-true approach to building business relationships that truly last. Get reading, get inspired, and above all- spread the love!
- Do great work. Obvious, right? Make excellence your standard, and never settle for work that falls short of that goal. Be clear on what your client’s expectations are and strive to meet them at every turn.
- Be empathetic. Have a solid understanding of your client’s pain points and make it your objective to consistently address and overcome them in the work you do. Ensure that all of your work ladders up to achieving your client’s stated goals, and routinely check in on what those goals are- these can change over time.
- Stop, collaborate + listen. Ice is back with a brand new invention. Great work cannot be done in isolation. While you want to take 90% of the work off their plate, make sure you’re spending that last 10% listening closely to client needs and taking a highly collaborative approach to solving those problems.
- Make their lives easier. They’re hiring you or your agency because you bring something to the table they don’t already have. Deliver your contribution in a way that seamlessly integrates into their existing program infrastructure. Making the engagement overly complicated will cause headaches on both ends.
- Honesty is the best policy. Everyone is human: mistakes happen. What sets you apart is how those mistakes are handled. Don’t sweep your missteps under the rug. Rather, communicate them proactively along with an explanation and a solution to how similar situations can be avoided in the future.
- Energy, enthusiasm + positivity. These are characteristics we actively recruit for in our new hires. Would you ever return to a restaurant with rude or lackluster service? Bringing your A-game at an agency means service with a smile, because let’s face it: nobody likes to work with a grump.
- Be professional. This is a no brainer, but after several years I’ve come to realize that shockingly, this is not always a given. Show up on time, be respectful of client’s time, make sure your work is polished and error-free, respond to requests and inquiries in a timely manner and adhere to deadlines.
- Practice active listening. If you’ve never had active listening training, drop everything – including reading this blog right now – and get started immediately. Active listening fosters the most active ingredient in a business relationship: trust. Please note: if your business depends largely on remote work in the form of phone or teleconference meetings like ours does, some of these strategies will need to be tailored to your existing processes.
- Do right by your people and they’ll do right by you. Your employees bring just as much value to you as you do to them. Don’t take them for granted! Reward stellar work as appropriate, but even more importantly, devise ways for them to continually improve and grow. When they see how invested you are in their success, they’ll give you their best in return. Those benefits are then reaped by you and your clients.
- Seek feedback, and provide it. Consistently asking for feedback shows that you care about your performance. No need to overthink it- this can be covered informally during touch base meetings. Translate that feedback into opportunities to improve your process, work product or communications. Conversely, bring suggestions to your client on how the project can be better optimized and streamlined for efficiency.
- Bring a strategic POV. If your client just wanted an extra set of hands to get the job done, they’d hire an intern. It’s ok to ask for direction, but it’s even better when you bring your strategic recommendations to the table first. Consistently acting like the subject matter expert you are will help to reinforce the value you bring to the table.
So there it is: our deepest secrets laid bare! In a nutshell it’s all about positivity, a curiosity to learn, stellar standards, and a desire to consistently improve and demonstrate value. How are you making your clients love you in 2017? I’d love to learn more 🙂