Building Client Relationships: Why External Conversations Are Critical to Success

Fierce Conversations training is often sought out to shift organizational cultures and improve internal relationships, including the relationships between team leaders and their teams, between colleagues, and between departments. However, the skills learned in Fierce training can also be applied directly to the conversations happening daily between clients or customers and employees who are in client-facing roles.

While a healthy company culture is core to producing what all businesses aim for—engagement, job satisfaction, productivity, innovation, etc.—the conversations we're having that are client-facing are just as critical to an organization's success, and Fierce provides the tools to achieve both.

According to HBR, in businesses that have sales teams, call centers, or restaurant chains, client or customer-facing managers make up roughly 60% of a company's management ranks. This means that a significant percentage of employees are having conversations with clients and customers on a daily basis. And every single conversation matters for your business.

Although percentages of client-facing roles may vary from company to company, conversations are happening all the time with people on the outside, and the quality of these conversations is critical to your success as an organization. Even if the percentage of client-facing roles in your company is 10%, that 10% plays a critical role, if not the most critical, in whether revenue goals are met or exceeded. The people who represent your company need to know how to nurture these external relationships, gain buy-in to close deals, and influence others without the use of authority. This is where Fierce training can help.

This brings me to our 3 transformational ideas from the foundation of Fierce and how they apply to the relationships you have with people outside your organization:

1. Our careers, our companies, our relationships, and our very lives succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time. A missing or ineffective conversation could mean a lost deal or partnership. Revenue, reputations, and relationships could take a hit, and it will cost your company time and money. When it comes to interactions with people outside of our organizations, it's harder to take responsibility for our emotional wake and repair misunderstandings because the one conversation we're having may be the only one we get.

2. The conversation is the relationship. Although there's often an exchange of a product or service in business, this exchange is not the relationship. The conversation, and how skillful it is or isn't, is what determines the relationship, and in every interaction, we can leave behind either an aftermath, an aftertaste, or an afterglow. When you know what to talk about and how to talk about it, you'll gain confidence in your ability to leave behind an afterglow, gain loyalty, and build trust with clients and prospects whom you rely on for success.

3. All conversations are with myself and sometimes they involve other people. Business often requires establishing new relationships in a limited amount of time with people outside our organization. Having the right skills to check our own contexts and beliefs while also knowing how to navigate what is often new conversational territory with unfamiliar people can be the determining factor between a huge success and an irreparable failure.

Training as a Solution for Strengthening Relationships

While we often argue that a top-down approach to conversation training is one of the most effective ways to shift your company culture, training doesn't (and shouldn't) stop at the top. Anyone and everyone in an organization can benefit from conversation skills training, from C-Suite to team leaders to client-facing representatives.

Companies often call on Fierce to develop their people's communication skills. When you're thinking about an external relationship, it's that much more important for you to show up in a Fierce manner, to dig deep, to get to the ground truth, so you can address and manage the client relationship appropriately. Fierce training provides how to build the foundation of these relationships and nurture them so that they'll continue to grow.

Ask yourself:

Are client relationships being nurtured in every conversation?

If any conversations are missing or ineffective, what's at stake?

Crate and Barrel, a Fierce client, came to us with a goal of improving customer interactions and developing managerial skills around communication. Nancy Spratt, Crate and Barrel manager of training and development and quality assurance for direct marketing, explained that communicating clearly, effectively, and respectfully leads to happier employees, and happy employees create a positive customer experience. Fierce-trained store managers are now able to quickly identify and resolve personnel issues with the use of effective communication skills. Read their success story here.

Communication is a skill set that's required for driving goals, meeting quotas, and producing results. Training may be what your organization needs to move forward. A world is within reach where we're confident and skilled enough to have the frank and candid conversations with people externally who are critical to our success.

For more on client and customer-facing roles, download our whitepaper here on frontline employee training, featuring Fierce client success stories and more on the business impact of improving organization-wide communication. 

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