Really Connecting With Your Clients

"My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren't so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more."
- Michael Gerber

Last week, I wrote about the FIRST leg of my recent trip overseas.

Well, the Amalfi Coast was just the appetizer for the main course: Ethiopia, and adopting our new kids. From the notes I've received, and the response, I know for a fact that there's something about the adoption process -- particularly that of impoverished orphans -- which seems to touch peoples' hearts.

In my opinion, there are loads of spiritual lessons to be learned through taking part in adoption somehow (or simply observing one). The process of really becoming a "son" and a "daughter" (which my kids are now going through)...how difficult it really is to leave behind an "orphan mindset"...learning new languages and practices...discovering how to receive committed love and affection...among many others.

But my trip to Ethiopia reminded (and taught) me of some critical lessons for YOUR tax or accounting business.

I write about them in this week's Tax & Accounting Business Strategy Note...

[Keep your eyes open next week for a BIG announcement which, for many of you, will change the results you get from your marketing...forever. Watch for an email and a fax next week with the subject line: "Big News..." and quickly take (free) action. You won't regret it.]

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Nate Hagerty's
"Profit For Life"
Tax & Accounting Business Marketing Strategy
Connecting ... Really Connecting With Your Clients

Arriving in Addis Ababa was a bit of a shock, at first.

Three things stuck out, really, at first, as our driver drove us away from the airport to our guest house:

1) The smog and pollution were unreal--I never took the plunge, but my wife went running one day from our guest house, and she could feel the black dust coating her lungs on every step--and that was in a relatively remote area of the city...the main thoroughfares were shrouded in a dense swirl of diesel fumes, smoke and grayness.

2) The poverty. I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first venture to a developing country, and though I'd seen the pictures...I wasn't quite prepared for the blank stares of hopeless beggars and neglected children lining many of the streets on which we comfortably rode.

3) The traffic patterns...our driver (quite skillfully) wove between cars and navigated the multiplicity of potholes and gullies. At one point, we entered an intersection at which three MAIN roads converged--and there was NO traffic signal of guidance. I'm talking about the convergence of about 16 lanes...but the drivers seemed to *make* a way. In fact, during my entire trip in and around the city, I only saw one accident. Freaking miraculous, if you ask me!

There were people EVERYWHERE. Really, do Ethiopians spend any time indoors? From the looks of things...not much! But, if you've ever been to Africa (or spent good time with native Africans), you know how beautifully they love and serve guests, and how they put an emphasis on personal connections and relationships with one another...which leads me to some critical lessons for your business:

1. How seriously do you take creating an atmosphere of trust and (even) affection in your business? With the skyrocketing advent of Social Media (about which I'll be dispelling some myths and providing some clear tips in the future), our world is growing more and more connected. A thought for you: How often do your clients hear from you? And...is it anything other than sending a bill? 😉

Really, you can even turn your invoices into a relational touch by adding some sort of more personal note, so the "medicine" goes down easier (which is what one of my recent Private Clients did, with nice results). But you need to be doing more than sending bills, or even marketing pieces: you've gotta be creating an atmosphere of trust by forging more personal relationships with your clients. The workers at our guest house in Addis Ababa (all native Ethiopians) were extremely forthcoming about their personal lives and never hesitated to give us the "inside scoop" about what *real* Ethiopians thought about adoption, tourists, etc. All of which made us very comfortable, and found me sending emails to other adoptive families breathlessly recommending they choose to stay at this guest house--even though it's much more expensive than other options.

Do you *like* referrals? Then, make it a point to create this environment at your firm...even if you believe that you're the most socially boring individual on the planet. And, of course, there's plenty of tools to make this easy for you.

2. There is an inherent human desire for connection to something *larger* than your own little world. Which is why it's such a good idea for you to establish rapport and community, even among your own clients. The other families staying with us at the guest house quickly became close friends for us--we shared a common bond, of adoption, and of going through similar "adjustment" issues with our newly-adopted children.

Your clients are, similarly, going through parallel events--whether it's families facing a financial crunch in this economy, or small business owners staring at declining sales (or even booming sales)--there are groups within your client base that would significantly benefit from connecting more deeply with one another. You can start a Mastermind Group of business owners in your firm, or host a complimentary seminar or teleconference for families (with a selected JV partner, or conducted by yourself)...it almost doesn't matter *how* you choose to connect your clients and prospects with one another--but that you do it.

In this economy, and this crazy culture, your clients are looking for places to plug in. Why not you and your firm, be that place, huh? Talk about "clients for life"...

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