The business of looking for new business is a bit like a dating game. But we need to make sure we’re approaching it with the prospect of a long-term relationship rather than a holiday romance.
When we research companies we could work with its imperative to gauge whether we are likely to be compatible. Will they like the fact we are small and have a very personal, hands on approach? Will they get our passion for project management, and share the belief that it’s the management of the project which is key to its success, or are they more likely to stick with a big name, regardless of the associated price tag. Fundamentally for us, it comes down to whether a prospective client has faith that we can deliver and that comes from meeting us and trusting us.
We do our research and get little glimmers of excitement when we find a company with similar beliefs to us, would that be too much to ask, to work with people with similar social or ethical views to our own? We might even find a local opportunity, even better. And when we actually find out they are looking for someone like us, it’s the best moment, with those buzzing endorphins making us feel anything is possible!
Apologies for the crass summer romance references! but it really can be love at first sight, in the opening moments of our first client meeting sometimes we can really sense whether the relationship has legs. It may not actually come down to a lingering gaze or a quirky smile but it might have a whole lot to do with the energy in the room and a shared desire to work together and create something beautiful.
But how do we build on that heady first moment of attraction and ensure it’s more than a just a fling?
That first introduction, the first project, is key to the overall success of the relationship. It’s where all the tools come out of the box and we put all the promise of the proposal into practise. It’s also when we really get to know who we are working with. What really matters to them and what really irritates them!
The reality is that an account will not last for ever. It can’t and it wouldn’t be right for it to, as the natural evolution of the client/ supplier relationship is eventually to look elsewhere for new ideas and fresh thinking. But this doesn’t mean it has to be end of the client relationship.
Building a long-lasting client relationship is hard, but it’s critical to sustaining a successful business and we often find that we also end up building real friendships over time which is so rewarding.
In our last article, we touched on the fact that Project Managers are critical communicators within the design process. We sit right in the middle of the client-designer relationship and this requires a huge amount of diplomacy and courtesy not only to ensure the project runs smoothly but also to make sure everyone still gets on when its completed!
We are passionate about relationships. Maybe it comes from the fact that we are a husband and wife team. This is not something we shout about, maybe for the same reason we didn’t call our agency ‘the kitchen table’ (yes, we really nearly did!) but alongside our passion for Project Management is our aim to manage our professional team relationships and make them work.