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How to Maintain Long-Lasting, Customer-Vendor Relationships

Tying the knotor fit to be tied?

You just married your true love. It was a grand wedding befitting the effort, consistency, and, of course, love you put into the relationship over time. Everyone in attendance was wowed by every last detail of the ceremony and walked away certain you truly had found your perfect match.

And then you didn’t speak to your spouse for six months.

What a letdown, huh? That’s how a lot of customers feel when they enter into a business relationship with a vendor. The courtship phase makes them feel like the most important company in the world, only to see their vendor’s eyes and hearts move on to the next target once the contract’s been signed.

Today’s successful B2B relationships have a post-nuptial honeymoon phase that never ends. Staying together and keeping engagement high requires a strategy that reminds customers of their value to youand how you continue to provide value for them.

Here’s what we like to do after our customers say “I do.”

Onboarding

Treating customers like they’re special starts right away. We like to deploy a two-part onboarding nurture process that includes emails and meetings. The key is to make each as personal as possiblenever bum your new customer out by sending them a templated welcome email.

Business relationships are better when all parties know each other and are comfortable together. That’s why getting everyone in the same room, either in person or on a video conference call, is so vital at the start. Onboarding meetings help you clearly outline the scope of the projects you’ll be collaborating on, make important team member introductions, and cover specifics like tech tools you’ll be using and timelines you’ll be sticking to.

You also have a golden opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level in the margins of these meetings. Don’t forgetbackchanneling goes a long way.

Unique swag

blog_customer-vendor-relationship_trash_050117_800x350

A “welcome to the family” gift should never feel like an afterthought. There are plenty of cheap, branded pens in the waste bins of company conference rooms to prove it. Get fun and creative with your welcome kits and swag bags, tailoring your gifts around activities or interests your customers have vocalized at some point in your dealings.

To further personalize your gift, always include a handwritten welcome letter from your team leader or CEO to show how excited you are to be the vendor of choiceno, laser printed signatures don’t count. Then shower your customer with enough shirts, stickers, phone cases, and other useful items to go around their entire office. Make a splash early and you’ll be remembered long after.

Check-ins

Remember all that hard work you did curating relevant content and emails to woo your customer when they were in the prospect phase? Well, clearly it was successful if you closed the deal, so why stop now? Keep sending high-caliber content just as frequently to demonstrate your leadership. 

Plus, needs can change overnight (and so can trends)show your customer that you’re keeping up with their evolving industry and you’ll always be the go-to when they want to add to their scope. In other words, keep giving them pieces of the pie and show them other offers you have to sell.

Education

You want your customers to think, “Wow, they’re doing all this for me?” Creating ongoing client-specific webinars, speaking engagements, and lunch & learns are perfect ways to provide value without trying to sell anything. Research a stated pain point and teach them industry best practices for overcoming it.

Make it informal and off the clockthese teachable moments can also be great opportunities to check in and reconnect in person from time to time. Prove you’ll go out of your way for your customers and they’ll become even bigger fans.

Routine diagnostics

If you see a problem, speak up! Part of supporting an organization is providing regular feedback into their performance. At LeadMD, we perform a Creative Healthcheck and other Marketo and Salesforce audits to make sure no initiative slips through the cracks. Once we have our findings, we deliver the report in the form of a monthly email that details what a customer is doing well within a platform and potential areas of improvement (with helpful tips included).

Customer success is your success, so be invested and stay on top of your client performance more than the month before contract renewal.

Quarterly Roadmap Reviews

Even if you’ve been keeping in touch, sending relevant content, hosting learning seminars and providing detailed performance emails, you still can take your ongoing honeymoon phase further by putting on quarterly reviews with your clients. Not every business has the time to do this, but for SaaS companies that want to go the extra mile, larger reviews like this get your customers even more excited. After all, they’ve spent a lot in both time and moneycustomers what to know what they are getting, and how they can do better.

You can provide bonus value each quarter by compiling a custom report of all the great work your clients have done during that time, as well as a recap of how your solution has helped them achieve their goals. Deliver this report on a call or in person with all hands on deck, or send it in a custom, artfully-designed package. You know, sort of like a four-times-a-year anniversary gift.

Great relationships don’t expire once the dotted line is signed.

People like to know they matter. Keep up the energy for demonstrating your value and showing customers you care and you’ll always feel as in-business love as you did the day you drafted up that contract. Remember, it’s easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.

If your business depends on long term relationships—true love, as it were—make a point of showing that love, generously, consistently, frequently. Make sure your customer only has eyes for you—by showing you only have eyes for them.

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