Building Client Relationships

This week’s post was written by Scott Peterson.

Does “building client relationships” mean being buddy-buddy with a client? That would be a no. Does it mean manipulating a situation and relationship for Interstates’ benefit? Definitely not. Building Relationships is really about living our Core Values – Building Relationships through dependability, trust, quality, and family. We want all Interstates leaders to develop well-rounded client relationships. 
These relationships are:

  • Mutually beneficial – It’s good for the client and good for Interstates. 
  • Professional – We are viewed as a company (and individuals) with credibility, and clients have confidence in us to deliver the results they need. 
  • Personal – We are connecting to and/or knowing the individual outside of work.
Applying servant leadership to client relationships is also important. We need to treat our clients with respect, regardless of their titles or positions. Looking for ways to make a difference for our clients is key (“Adding Value”). This could be in the form of passing an interesting article on to them, asking for their feedback, and/or asking hard questions that might challenge some of their assumptions.
There are a lot of examples that would fit here, but I wanted to share just a couple:

  • AGP — Randy Van Voorst and Larry Den Herder have great relationships with several key leaders at AGP. The strength of those relationships allows Randy and Larry to ask harder questions and push AGP for clarity on projects without the fear of losing the client. In fact, AGP has come to expect that push and those questions because they know the reason is to make them better. As the years go on, Randy and Larry have become close friends with that group. They get together for professional and personal events (hunting, fishing, golfing, etc.). Larry and Randy were invited to celebrate with a couple of retiring AGP leaders, which is significant since most of the other attendees were AGP team members. That shows you the depth of their connection. This type of relationship allows them to be direct, vulnerable, resolve issues faster/better, and, most importantly, serve the client better.
  • Ardent — Jake Ten Haken, Michael De Boer, and Bryan Monroe also have awesome relationships with our Ardent clients. They talk, text, and email frequently. Sometimes it’s about work and sometimes about their skills (or lack of) related to maneuvering a snowmobile. If you catch the beginning of an Ardent meeting or phone call, you’re likely to hear some trash talk. However, at the end of the day, Ardent knows and trusts these guys. Developing these friendships and building this trust has led to more work.
You never know how good a relationship is until it is tested. Therefore, when you face a tough situation with a client, it is really an opportunity – an opportunity for you to show the client what “Great Client Relationships” means. Resolving tough situations by walking with them as a partner will always deepen a relationship. This does not mean roll over –it means do the right thing! Be up-front, be direct, be helpful, and be a partner to them. That’s how you build client relationships “The Interstates Way.”
Continue leading the Interstates Way! – Scott Peterson


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