Avoid These Seven Client Partnership Mistakes
In my role at Butler Street, I work with a variety of outside partners. As a customer of these companies, whether it be service organizations or technology providers, I see the same mistakes made over and over again. They don’t know or realize it yet, but we are at risk as a customer and about to leave them. It is extremely obvious they all need Butler Street’s account management training!
Here are seven common mistakes “partners” often make and tips to build collaborative and long-term relationships.
1. No consistency in the relationship
There are a few companies we work with which we are assigned a new account manager every quarter. Sadly, that is the only contact I have. I haven’t been introduced to anyone else in their organization and anticipate that in the next 2-3 months I’ll receive an email that goes something like, “Hi, I’m so and so and I’m your new account manager. Can we schedule a call to... “
TIP: Introduce others in your organization to strengthen the relationship and help with the transition when the account manager changes
2. There is no agenda or preparation prior to a meeting
To make matters worse, the typical first call starts with the new account manager begins with something like this, “So what does Butler Street do?” Argh! There was no knowledge transfer, nothing noted in their system, no background research done or even a quick review of our website. With one of our partners, in advance of a scheduled meeting, I requested for them to provide an update during the call on the status of our open issues which had previously been escalated. When the meeting started, the rep said, “Oh yeah, I’ll follow up with our development team to see about the status.”
TIP: Prepare for meetings (have an agenda, do background research and ensure you can provide an update on the status of any open issues)
3. They show up late to meetings
If there is one thing that is not acceptable at Butler Street, it is lack of punctuality. Client meetings are a priority and account managers that are late to a meeting with us show a lack of respect of our time and unappreciation of our business.
TIP: Be on time (for meetings and any other commitments and deliverables)
4. Their goal is to sell something
Rarely am I asked about my objectives for the meeting, our business goals, or how they can help us. Instead, they focus on what they want (extend the contract, increase users, add on some other feature or service) without asking questions to understand our needs. In the end, there is no value to these calls for us. The account manager gets to check off their to-do list that they’ve been in touch.
TIP: Introduce the objectives at the beginning of meeting and use a response check to see if the customer would like to add anything to accomplish during the call and ask effective questions to uncover needs and provide value.
5. Increase price without communicating value
I get it. Prices increase. Last week with one partner, I inquired about the rate for increasing the number of users on their plan and I heard the following (all of which was a surprise to me):
“You’re on a legacy plan.”
“We don’t offer that feature any longer.”
“If you want to renew, the new rate is [50% higher than your current rate] for fewer users.”
“It’s all pretty standard in the industry.”
“If you don’t upgrade to an Enterprise plan, you won’t be able to add on anything else.”
“When you upgrade to the Enterprise plan, the price will increase by 7% each year unless you sign up for a 3-year agreement and then it will lock in your price for that term.” And then it could go up by 20% or more!
TIP: Communicate about changes in the plans or structure in advance, why they are changing, the value to the customer, and make it a seamless experience.
6. No request for feedback
Admittedly, some (but not all) companies we work with are really good at asking for feedback. We do receive and take the time to respond to NPS surveys with thoughtful input about our experience. Rarely though do we hear anything back - not even a “Thank you for sharing your insights” email.
TIP: Ask for feedback formally and informally. It is the best way to know how your customer really feels about your company. When they provide feedback, thank them, take action, and close the loop.
7. There is no follow-up after a meeting
After the discussion where action items are determined (such as finding out about the status of the open escalated issues, scheduling another meeting, etc.), no recap is sent and we are lucky if we hear back without having to reach out to them, unless of course we are interested in buying something else from them. Guess what? We’re not!
TIP: Send an email right away after the meeting with the action items and key notes from the call. Add reminders to your calendar or tasks so they are not forgotten and then follow-up when you said you would.
Don’t be a bad partner to your clients. Your customer will appreciate you following these tips to strengthen your partnership and you will be rewarded with greater customer retention and continued growth!
In Butler Street’s Account Management training and now full eLearning program, you and your team can learn how to be in the customer’s operating reality, align to your customers’ priorities, recognize, and mitigate risks before they jeopardize the relationship, use a proactive inspection process, and develop account expansion strategies. View highlights of the Account Management eLearning program in the eLearning demo or contact us to learn more.