19 Aug Commandment #7: Keep Track of Past Clients …”
Commandment #7: “Keep Track of Past Clients Throughout Their Careers”
In many years of managing sales organizations, there would have to be one individual who, at the end of the day, would stand out as the best “belly to belly” sales person and relationship manager that I’d ever encountered. Greg (not his real name) had unimpeachable product knowledge (he’d put in his time as an operator), polished communication skills, an obvious love of people and a charismatic and competitive nature. Importantly, however, Greg worked hard at it – systematically.
I knew Greg back in the old “Rolodex” days – before sophisticated CRM systems and contact management software. Long after Greg no longer worked for me, I would hear from him quarterly – like clockwork – then later twice a year and finally much later, annually. These contacts were supplemented with the occasional handwritten note if he had heard anything about my life or career. I know that I was a data point in an elaborate system that Greg painstakingly managed. He would reach out to me, usually by phone, on a predetermined schedule, refusing to allow our relationship to wane from neglect. I also knew that I was one of hundreds that he maintained. That really didn’t matter – in fact; it was quite flattering to me. I learned a lot from Greg, and still wish that I was as adept and committed to relationship management as he was. Just writing this is a good reminder for me.
How many contacts do you have in your Address Book? How many people are you connected to via LinkedIn or other social media? How proactive are you at managing and maintaining these relationships? When it comes to past clients, it’s amazing how they have a way of reappearing in some capacity later down the road.
Until recently, my wife and I maintained a vacation home in central Texas. We started to use it differently last year after she retired – going less often but staying much longer. (She’s “unretired” now – a whole separate story.) Needing two cars while there, we often drove one car from Atlanta – a solid 14-hour trip. One of the most productive and enjoyable things we liked to do was search our own contact lists and call people on the Bluetooth (both friends and family) that we were long overdue in speaking to. Without exception, we found those conversations very warm and rewarding. It was important to us to let people know that we were thinking about them and that we cared enough to reach out to them in an intentional way.
“Keep track of past clients throughout their careers.” Add in prospects, bosses and colleagues too. Investing in relationship capital can create powerful career leverage and a deep pool of personal and professional contacts that will almost certainly prove to be valuable assets. It’s rewarding work – but work nonetheless.