Your client wasn’t always your client

You’ve met a potential client who you feel you would be able to help considerably and work with very well and you’ve arranged a coffee to have a chat. It’s all very informal and light touch at this stage, but you make sure that everything is just as it should be. A smart café (remembering that your suggestion of venue says something about you), enthusiastic about the meeting and putting your best polished shoe forward.

It goes well, as do subsequent meetings, and your polite, yet persistent, wooing lands you a great client with whom you skip off into the sunset full of each other’s mutual praise.

A couple of years on, your client can’t help but notice that you’re not making such an effort these days – now it’s just a quick cup of what passes for coffee in your office, but in reality is tepid brown sludge in a thermos, during a work meeting. There seems to be less time spent on making the effort. It’s almost as if you’ve got what you want, tied the knot and given up your gym membership.

It’s a familiar story and the important thing to remember here is that your client wasn’t always your client. For some, the thrill of the chase does more than the conquest itself but put yourself in your client’s shoes – were you to feel a tiny bit taken for granted by someone who had wooed you as if you were the only thing that mattered to them and then seemed to take your goodwill for granted, you’d potentially be susceptible to the consideration of others.

We all need to work just as hard on maintaining the relationships we have as well as on the pursuit of new ones, and the more entrenched we become in a client’s world, the easier it is to take the relationship for granted. Think about how you can add value all the time; how you can demonstrate gratitude and remain relevant.

And don’t confuse this will having to spend a vast fortune. At home, turning up with the biggest bouquet of flowers you can find at the train station once a year on a birthday isn’t really going to put you on the leaders’ board in the relationship-maintaining stakes. Doing little things that really mean something, sometimes unexpectedly and always with real thought as to what the other person or people would actually like will have you on the podium in no time.

Developing your practice is running a business and you need to do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t lose sight of what is important – clients and service. Each of us can easily become all-consumed in matters and quickly forget those upon whose loyalty our business depends and without whom the lights don’t go on.

We would do well to heed the words of the 17th Century French writer Blaise Pascal:

On aime mieux la chasse que la prise.’

Luan de Burgh of the de Burgh Group is a professional public speaker and presentation coach. More of his articles can be read here.