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How to Measure Your Client Relationship Strength

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Ask most people about the strength of their core client relationships and they'll say, "Great. Rock solid."

Yet these comments usually refer to how much rapport or trust sellers feel they have with the client. They don't answer the question through the lens of business value the client receives from them.

They're also often thinking more of the relationship they feel they have with their client, not how their client feels about them.

To assess the strength of your relationship with a client, the key is to view it through their eyes. 

7 Questions to Evaluate Client Relationships


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(Click to enlarge.)


Once you've plotted your relationship in the grid, it's time to start thinking about why the relationship is where it is, what can be done to strengthen it, and how much investment energy you should place in one client or another.

What Essential Relationships Look Like

Most sellers have at least one relationship where they find themselves, for the most part, at the top (essential) level. They say clients would answer the questions something like this:

  1. Partnership: "We partner with them proactively at the highest appropriate levels when we are considering new strategies in the areas relevant to them."
  2. Impact on success: "We get breakthrough results with them."
  3. Relationship loss: "Losing our partnership would be catastrophic."
  4. Reaction to replacement: "Not going to happen on my watch."
  5. Competitive bidding: "Sometimes I have to go to bid, but they shape the request for proposals with me. If I can swing it, I sole source to them."
  6. Replace by themselves: "No."
  7. Would recommend: "Yes, proactively."

Strong client relationships lead to repeat business, account growth, increased referrals, and greater revenue and margin for your business. Yet often, when you look at relationships from the buyer's perspective, they are not as strong as they could and should be. Use this chart to determine how strong your client relationships are and what you can do to get them to the essential level.

Read 7 Ideas for Building Trust in Sales

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Topics: Strategic Account Management