Building a remote services business requires more than just finding clients via advertising.
With the power of the internet and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of business services–which includes industries like marketing and consulting–has gone more and more remote. Yet the value of real relationships has become critical to your business services growth and success. The challenge is how to build client relationships without meeting face-to-face.
In my experience, the good news is that everyone is becoming more comfortable with relationships via social media and technology. The bad news is that I still find a lot of founders and business leaders who don’t use these tools effectively or haven’t learned the rules for nurturing remote relationships.
That said, here is my list of some key recommendations to help you get your fair share of business.
1. Customize and personalize every communication you can.
Generalized email blasts and social media ads may be great for finding interest in your services, but these are not enough to close and maintain new clients. Real relationships require frequent and personalized communication, to make them memorable experiences with loyalty.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting long rambling texts about the weather, or “Hello, how are you?” but rather a recognition and real insights into specific challenges that you know this client is facing. Couple this with a specific proposal for the next step or your solution.
2. Maximize online referrals and positive service reviews.
Just as consumers give top priority to peer feedback and experiences on social media or review sites, you need to give your clients an incentive to tell others about you and become your advocate. I still find too many service organizations that ignore or discount online reviews and satisfaction surveys.
Another major source of services clients these days is online industry directory sites and ranking review articles. It pays to invest more in building remote relationships with these site owners or spending quality time with podcasters and popular blog influencers.
3. Highlight your personal leadership values and experience.
Through frequent communication and your website, make sure clients see you as a person and a leader, rather than as a robot who can do their job. We all have goals and expectations, and a backstory that may be inspirational, memorable, and important to potential partners.
Unless you represent one of the huge brands in the services arena, such as Accenture or Oracle, clients today want to hear why you personally are the right answer for them. What are your academic credentials, firms serviced, and industry accolades and participation?
4. Make sure clients know how you manage your business.
Clients need to feel comfortable that you expect quality work from your team and technology and have metrics, modern tools, and controls in place to make it happen. Be proactive in answering potential questions about peak load scheduling, special services, and billing questions.
In this context, you might also offer free seminars on, say, the latest trends in tax accounting or reports on best practices in a given discipline. Every good relationship is a shared one, where you also offer to learn from every potential client.
5. Seek out your client’s purpose, priorities, and expectations.
Nothing galvanizes a client’s loyalty and support than the feeling that you understand that their purpose is shared with yours, and goes well beyond what you can do for them. This has always been the realm of face-to-face communication, but it can be done as well remotely.
6. Provide relevant case studies illustrating your results.
Every business service, from logo design to tax preparation, means something different to business owners in different stages of growth. People like to see examples of your work that they can relate to, with results, including costs and savings. Focus on proposals, rather than hourly rates.
If you intend to stay in the business services market, it’s time to face the reality that much of it will be remote from this point forward. You need to tune your processes for finding prospects, building relationships, and delivering results, per the recommendations outlined here.
Your challenge is to find even more innovations, and make these changes a growth opportunity, rather than a barrier.