“We are living in unprecedented times” – these words have become almost cliches. All the time we are coming across these sentences. Yes, this is the truth. Our lives have changed, and our businesses have also changed. The way we work has changed. The way we communicate with our clients and customers has changed too.
Before the pandemic struck us, most businesses relied on face-to-face meetings with their business relationships. People travelled across the globe to conduct business meetings. Seminars, conferences, and consortiums took place. People spent hours inside the conference and meeting rooms to negotiate deals. However, post-COVID all of this has changed. People no longer meet physically and corporate gifting is also delegated to websites like EVA who are experts in customized corporate gifting.
Employees stopped going to offices and started working from home. Sales agents and managers stopped traveling to meet prospective or existing clients. Seminars and conferences got replaced by webinars. Business deals started getting signed from the kitchen instead of conference rooms. People started meeting prospective clients in Blazer and pajamas instead of formal suits. The business world went topsy turvy.
Strategies to Maintain Your Business Relationships in 2021
Even though a lot has changed but as the saying goes, “the show must go on”. Businesses had to go on and therefore businesses also had to come up with new ways and ideas to network and maintain business relationships remotely. If you are still coping with this paradigm shift and not understanding how to do business remotely then the following tips will help you.
Create a Communication Routine
It is important to create a routine with your new and old client in a remote work environment. The client should be aware of the meetings that you wish to conduct with them in advance so that they can plan accordingly.
If this is a new relationship then at the onset establish a routine where you let the client know about the frequency of contacts. If there are deadlines, let them know in advance. You can take advantage of technology and use Google calendar or other similar apps and let them know when they can expect an update from you. Request your client to adhere to the calendar to avoid confusion. The teams at both your end and the client’s end should also be aware of this routine.
Be particular and never miss out on any meeting. If there is a deadline to meet then make sure to meet that. A missed deadline or meeting can jeopardize your credibility.
This proactivity in creating a routine will assure your client that you are organized, punctual and good at delivering what you promise.
Update and Synchronize Technologically
Business in these difficult times is hugely reliant on technology. However, not everyone is proficient with technology. There are leaders who are very good at what they do but suffer to understand the settings of the zoom app.
It is important that your clients, as well as your internal team, should feel comfortable with the technology that you prefer to use. You may feel comfortable with zoom while your client may insist to use skype. They may not be aware of certain features of an app or software. In many cases, their software may not be an updated version. It is important that before initiating business virtually, you have a discussion regarding the apps and software. Both of you should be on the same page regarding technology. Update any software that needs updating. Download whatever needs to be downloaded. If your client is not too comfortable with your preferred tech, offer them special assistance. This would help you gain their confidence. They would start feeling comfortable with doing business with you.
Follow a Virtual Meeting Protocol
Just because the meeting is being conducted virtually and you are sitting on your couch doesn’t mean you should be informal and casual. Establish a virtual meeting protocol for you and your team. You can also politely suggest the client also follow the same protocol. A few of the things that you should follow are:
- Wear formal clothes: Virtual meeting doesn’t give you the license to be informal and appear in front of the client in your nightwear. Always wear formal clothes. Comb your hair properly and do not look like you are just out of bed. Shave or decently trim your beard. Wear light makeup. To put it simply, look exactly the way you would have looked during a face-to-face meeting.
- Turn on video: Many people are uncomfortable with video calls. However, it is important you switch on the camera during a call. Body language plays an important role in meetings. When your client is able to see your facial expression, they find you reliable and trustworthy.
- Sit in a proper place: Do not conduct the meeting sitting on the bed. Use a table and chair. The place should not be dark. You can also use a virtual background.
- Do not eat: Sipping water or drinking coffee is still okay, however, avoid gobbling a huge hamburger during a call with the client.
- Avoid disturbances: Try to sit and conduct a meeting from a place with no disturbances. Do not sit in a noisy room. Do not sit in a room where your grandma is watching TV loudly. Do not sit at a place where your kids and pets are playing and running around.
- Put your phone on silent mode: Do not take any calls during the meeting. Just like you wouldn’t during a physical meeting.
- Smile: Try to smile and appear positive during a client call. Do not appear to look bored and uninterested when the client is speaking. Appear confident and interested. This would help you gain your client’s trust.
- Occasional Small Talk: To make the meeting interesting, indulge in occasional small talk. This would make the meeting less monotonous and boring. Showing interest in the client’s life and business would make him feel at home. However, do not be too curious as that may have the exact opposite impact.
Follow up to show you care
Always follow up with your clients after a meeting. Follow the communication routine. Following up with the client over phone calls and emails is important. The foundation of a good business relationship lies in the art of following up. You can be creative in ways to follow up with the client. One of the best and easiest ways to follow up would be by giving them gifts.
When managing your team, following up on them is crucial too. Sometimes dropping an email can sound too cold and formal, and some may not be comfortable with chat messengers. So it’s important to find the right balance.
Set up and Launch a gifting program
To stand out in the new virtual world, it is important that you connect meaningfully with your clients. What better way than gifts to connect meaningfully?
Launch a gifting program for your client with Eva in minutes. Eva would send your clients gifts with your brand name and logo. The best part is that the gifts are customized as per the preferences of the recipients. Eva’s AI chatbot will chat with your client and know their preferences and pick gifts accordingly. Your clients are bound to love the customized gifts as has been proven by countless reviews on Eva’s website.
The best part is that Eva will also collect testimonials on your behalf. Use this opportunity to network and maintain a good relationship with your clients remotely.
Sign up for the free 14-day trial of Evabot today.