Financial success (i.e. profit) ensures a business can stay open, so most businesses spend a great deal of time thinking about how they can be more successful.
What most businesses often fail to consider is that their clients’ success also plays a huge role.
If your clients are successful, they’ll have the finances to support your business. This in turn brings you revenue. So your clients’ success leads to your business succeeding as well. Talk about a win-win!
When a company treats clients as transactions, it’s easy for the relationship to devolve. They’re too focused on making money with the least amount of time or effort.
But a company that believes in strong relationships succeeds when its clients’ succeed. The benefit is mutual: money for you and a valuable service for them.
Organic growth comes from a client-focused approach
Cindy Carson, the director of Customer Success at UserIQ, believes that the most successful clients start off with a tailored onboarding process.
Her team looks at each client to understand how UserIQ can benefit them the most. Then they provide segmented training that will help each customer gain wins.
Organic growth (in revenue and clients) often happens with this client-focused approach. The byproduct is your clients’ steady evolution into your sales force. As in, the projects you do for them keep them in business, and they, in turn, talk about the project to everyone they know.
Jeff Sheldon, who runs Ugmonk, a boutique clothing line for designers, obsesses over quality—in both the products he creates and sells and the support his customers receive.
If a shirt doesn’t quite fit, or something is wrong with an order, he’ll ship a new shirt right away. Ugmonk doesn’t even ask the customer to send the wrong order back.
Because Ugmonk takes care of customers, customers take care of Ugmonk. They post links to the company on social media, with photos of them wearing Ugmonk clothes.
Sheldon receives a lot of free publicity from industry influencers and blogs. They all talk about Ugmonk and his obsession with the quality of his products. By helping his customers “win”, his business also wins.
Focusing on client success is a mentality
Focusing on client success is a mentality. It’s a way of doing business that encompasses all aspects of every project you take on.
It begins before a project is even started with discussions and planning. You have to ensure the best way that you work will help your clients succeed.
Some companies view some clients as too small to matter. But if you take this view, you assume that your clients’ situation or size won’t ever change. You lose sight of their long-term strategic importance and loyalty.
After all, your own company could focus on being better rather than bigger. So you could also be “too small to matter” for the companies you’re a client of.
Some of my best clients started out as “small potatoes”. But think about it. A client who pays $500 a month for ten years is worth a lot more than a client who pays $1,000 a month but cancels a few months in.
Smaller businesses can also wield a lot of influence. They can amass large social media followings and massive mailing lists. Both can be a huge help to your company with no need to grow a sales team.
Find the underlying reason why your client needs help
Finally, to be the most helpful, you may have to look beyond the problems your clients present.
The underlying reason why they’re asking for help is often not obvious. Sometimes they’re looking for specific answers. Sometimes they’re asking for help in an area without even being aware that’s what they’re doing.
When I was a full-time web designer, clients would often want me to design a site that “would simply look great”. Over time, though, I realized that wasn’t the main reason most clients wanted to hire me. What they really wanted was a site that would look great, but mostly generate more revenue.
I changed my sales pitch and began speaking about how good design could help achieve more profit. The number of projects I landed more than doubled.
Listen to what your clients need, and then help them succeed. It’s the key for companies of one to succeed themselves in the long term.
What if the real key to richer and more fulfilling work could be to not create and scale something into a massive corporation, but rather, to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one?
Image by: Valentin Salja on Unsplash