Client relationships: 4 categories

The Lead

There are four basic types of advisor-client relationship, but only one of them is good for both of you. There are four basic types of advisor-client relationship, but only one of them is good for both of you.

Lately, I’ve been looking at all kinds of different client relationships. I’ve dropped them into four categories to make it easier to explore what you need to do to improve those relationships — for you and your clients.

1. Not good for you, not good for your client

These relationships are not good for you or your clients. If there’s no way to create a healthy, value-creating relationship with your prospect, then any deal will cost both of you time and energy. But that’s not where most of these relationships come from. Most start out at some higher level and over time decline into this category, often when both parties become complacent. What are you doing to prevent your relationships from slipping to this level?

2. Not good for you, but good for your client

This is where most weak salespeople live. They take deals in which they can’t command the price they need and so always deal with customers who are getting the better end of the deal. These are not peer relationships, these are subservient relationships. These relationships make you resentful, and in the end, you probably under-serve your clients, making them resentful in turn. How do you move these relationships to a better level?

3. Good for you, but not good for your client

These are not the relationships in which you do your best work. In these relationships, you do well and your clients don’t do well. That’s never good. When you create value, you’re entitled to capture some part of the value you create. When you create massive value, you can capture massive value. In these deals, you capture the majority of the value. Ultimately, this will destroy your relationships, your reputation and your revenue. What do you need to do to create the value that would entitle you to receive what you are now capturing?

4. Good for you, good for your client

This is the sweet spot you should be aiming for. These are the relationships you need in order to grow and sustain your business. This is how you win over clients for life — you create massive value and capture massive value. You bring growth initiatives to your clients, and they challenge you to grow with them. To create these relationships, call on prospects for whom you can create massive value and who seek this category of relationship. You have to develop the initiatives that deliver, and you have to accept the challenge to grow yourself.

Which category do most of your client relationships fall into? What can you do to move these relationships to a healthier place? How can you find more prospects with whom you can have a win-win relationship?

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