Customer-to-Client: How to Make the Transition

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on May 04, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple

When we hang out our proverbial shingle and start selling something, people come to us to transact business, buying our goods or services with their hard-earned cash. I call these people customers. They transact occasionally and it’s based on the value they perceive from the product or service you provide.

Businesses need customers. But I think they need more. Some businesses stop their “sales pipeline” at the point where they transact business to create a customer. But I think that the next step in the pipeline is to transition customers into clients.

I realize that I might be redefining a term here but it works (in my mind, at least!).

While a customer might buy from your business occasionally, because they perceive value from the product or service, a client will buy from you regularly because they perceive value from the relationship. They feel confident working with you that you are their first call when they need whatever it is that you sell.

When you transition a customer into a client, you have made your life a heck of a lot easier. But you’ve also upped the ante on the relationship:

You’ve made your life easier because you no longer have to sell this person on why they need to buy your product or service. They already know. But at the same time, you’ve upped the ante on the relationship because now you need to continuously provide them with stellar value, going above and beyond the product- or service-specific value you once offered. And that’s tricky!

But here are the reasons you want to turn customers into clients:

• They’re dedicated to you, even if your competitor is knocking at their door.
• They’re honest with you when things don’t go well.
• They’re the last to leave if the marketplace dries up.
• They’re the first to refer you to someone else who needs your services.

So, how do you turn a customer into a client?

• Be friendly. Although you might keep business and personal life separate, friendliness
shouldn’t be saved for after 5pm. Be a pleasure to work with. Share your joys and
frustrations to show that your client is important to you.
• Be honest. If you screw up, admit it and fix it. This is a relationship you’re building and the
overall value of the relationship will be enhanced when you show that you’re honest.
• Add value wherever possible. Be willing to lose a little here and there for the overall gain.
• Go the extra mile… then go a little further.

Heather Recommends:

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