If you are in a services business, you are primarily relying on building a good relationship with your client. This relationship determines the success or failure of your business and should be actively managed.

In the beginning, the greatest hurdle to a productive relationship is establishing trust. Then, as things mature, it becomes a case of ensuring both parties benefit. Finally, in time, the relationship may come under threat as parties lose interest, become complacent or even try to undermine each other.

The important thing is to realize that it is far more profitable to retain and develop an existing relationship than it is to find and grow a new one. For this reason, it is important to take proactive steps to nurture client relationships.  A critical aspect to this process is to focus on providing an evolving service that changes with the client’s needs. It also requires forming multiple connections with key role-players inside the clients’ business, essentially adding layers to the relationship.

Running a services business arguably offers one of the most challenging business development challenges. It is tough to sell something that is not tangible, or at least not visible! For this reason, one cannot grow a services business by purely finding new clients. One must grow existing clients.

Ultimately all profitable, long term client relationships start by finding the right type of client and this is where a carefully crafted marketing plan is crucial. It is important to provide enough information through your marketing so that prospects can do their homework and decide for themselves if they see a potential fit. Then, once an enquiry is received, one should allow the prospect a chance to interact directly with you at low risk through an initial free consultation or mini project to start developing a trust relationship. Finally, once the decision has been made to work together, the onboarding process must be seamless and allow for a gradual scaling-up as the relationship develops.

There is an art and a science to marketing, but this is particularly true when it comes to a services business. Entrepreneurs should think carefully about how they find, and retain the right type of clients!