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Client courting: 3 tactics for building strong business relationships

The way to a client’s heart is easy to confuse with the way to their wallet. When navigating the political minefield of today’s corporate world, it can be challenging to build healthy relationships with the people you work with.

Have you done enough to please them? Are you doing too much? Did your email actually find them well?

The truth is, working relationships that stand the test of time are built on what we do every single day: create real, human connections with — you guessed it — real humans.

So, if you’re keen to work towards common goals rather than try to outdo one another, you’re in the right place. These are our top three recommendations for client courting strategies that will help to build productive working relationships.

1. Hosting a killer lunch meeting

Whether you’re getting to know new clients, colleagues, or the heralded C-suite, hosting a dressed-down lunch meeting is a great way to break the ice in a corporate setting.

Beyond the confines of a board room or a Zoom call, this is a prime opportunity to openly discuss new campaigns, opportunities for collaboration or upselling. It might seem informal, but nothing’s off the table during a business lunch — except dishes that contain a lot of garlic.

In fact, the food you eat is important. Ideally, you’ll want something that substantiates without disturbing the flow of productive discussions. If you’re hosting the meal, Pasta Evangelists recommend that you “prioritise foods that are easy to eat and minimise the need for utensils or messy finger foods.” Simple crowd-pleasers like sandwiches, wraps, pasta or salads are best, as they “allow your guests to concentrate on the discussion without worrying about food spills or complicated dining etiquette.”

Remember, the healthiest working relationships are built on being personable and cooperative, not going all out to impress with a flashy spread. Nine times out of ten, you’re best off leaving the lobster platters and caviar for another day.

2. Sharing customer testimonials

When you’re still in the wooing stage of getting to know your clients, social proof is everything. This is down to a simple truth — humans like things that other humans like.

According to The Decision Lab, this is known as the bandwagon effect, referring to “our habit of adopting certain behaviours or beliefs because many other people do the same”. So, when your clients see how popular you are with the other businesses you’re partnered up with, they’ll be confident that you’ll do good things for them, too.

This is especially relevant for clients that you have operating in the same niche. For example, if you’re working with a team in the fintech space, showcasing relevant testimonials from your other fintech accounts will bolster your credibility.

To that end, consider leveraging different platforms to spread the word about your good work. As well as talking directly to your clients for feedback, social media experts from Ripl recommend gathering reviews from channels such as:

Angies List
Google My Business

Then, once you have your testimonials to hand, share the cream of the crop on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep your clients in the loop. This way, you’ll start on the right foot with the people that will one day be writing you those same reviews.

3. Sending thoughtful corporate gifts

We’ve spoken a lot about the importance of building genuine relationships with your clients, rather than buttering them up with needless expenses. So, it might seem counterintuitive to suggest you send them a present in the post. However, a well-considered gift can help to show your appreciation and your commitment currying favour without coming across as superficially generous.

To give a good corporate gift, you’ll need to conduct a little market research — but we’re sure you’re used to that. If you’re sending something for an entire team, explore their social media for clues about common interests or elements of their company culture that you can play up with your present. For example, the B-corp-certified firm that emphasises its environmental stewardship might appreciate sustainable office supplies, decor, or memberships to eco-friendly subscription services. Suitcase Mag has compiled some of their top choices here.

Alternatively, you might choose something that strengthens your own brand association. This can help to create a positive perception of your brand and remind clients of what sets you apart from your competitors. For example, an innovative tech company might send a helpful gadget that they produce to assist with office work. A gift of this genre would provide utility but also highlight the uniqueness of their products — for instance, a smart notepad or under-desk exercise machine.

In time, your clients will see you as an integral part of their team — not a separate entity that they could ever stand to lose. Successful courting will sustain your business, make collaboration easier, and build genuine relationships that everybody stands to benefit from. Who says being ‘corporate’ has to be a slog?

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Client courting: 3 tactics for building strong business relationships

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