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Communication Coach: Trust your instincts to grow client relationships

March 2, 2021 -  By
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Photo: welcomia / iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

One of my longtime landscaping clients kicked off our relationship by informing me that wherever he lives his landscaping always sets the standard.

He wanted us to create a showplace whose beauty would be appreciated by all of his family, friends, and neighbors. Of course, we loved the idea and enthusiastically sought to make it happen.

When we sat down to finalize the agreement, he proved to be a tough negotiator who tested our limits. We respected that, made some concessions, and ultimately struck a deal.

What’s next?

Our design/build company was on a nice growth trajectory during its early years. We landed our share of high-profile projects and enjoyed great relationships with discriminating clients.

That’s what I thought until this particular client asked me an important question. His question forever changed how I view client relationships, not to mention sales and marketing.

“What’s next?” he asked after we completed the walkthrough of his latest landscaping enhancement.

Somewhat puzzled, I replied, “What do you mean what’s next? We’re done.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” he asked, explaining that his landscaping is never done.

He stood there silently looking at me. Thinking back on that day, I imagine he enjoyed watching me digest his words until the mental gears clicked into place.

Then, I got it. It was a revelation that now seems so obvious.

At that time, I viewed business relationships as a series of transactions, rather than an ongoing collaborative process that never stops. It’s a subtle distinction that awakens your awareness of a simple reality.

If you are not the solution you may be the problem.

The insight was understanding that he enjoyed the journey more than the destination. Once a project was complete, he was already thinking about the next phase.

Our responsibility as business owners and managers is more than staying current with industry trends. We have to filter them for our clients, sharing what will help them get more from their landscaping investment. That’s what my client was conveying to me.

This experience answers many of the marketing questions and concerns that I get from my current clients. Let’s take email newsletters as one example to illustrate.

The majority of landscaping companies do not regularly publish an email newsletter. They tell me they aren’t convinced of its value, that it may harm relations by bothering clients.

If you are married or have a life partner, how long will that relationship work if you aren’t regularly nurturing it? Client relationships are the same but different, with the business bearing greater responsibility.

Trust your instincts when it comes to selling and marketing to your clients. A few may not want to be bothered so much, but most will appreciate your efforts to grow the relationship.

More importantly, listen to your most demanding clients. Take their feedback to heart. It may prove to be exactly what’s needed to level up your business.

Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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