When I first started in sales, I thought I had to falsely charm my future customers by pretending to be friends. “I feel so fake,” I told my boss. “I’m asking about their families. Do I really care about their families, or am I just trying to make the sale?”
Turns out my best customers, indeed my only lasting customers, were people I really did care about. I never could bring myself to simply pretend to be interested. I wanted to hear about their lives, their jobs, their frustrations and triumphs. In truth, the clients who stayed with me for a long time were people I considered friends.
I’m in the same boat with my freelance writing biz. I got a call yesterday from a client I haven’t done anything for in a couple of months. I was thrilled to hear from her, and we talked about her trail running, relationships, successes at her work and new projects. At the end of the call, she said something like, “Beth, I want you to know how much I enjoy working with you. The communication, the way we actually get things done, the ideas. It’s really a pleasure.”
Wow. What an honor it is to make a living working with nice people who appreciate my work and enjoy my company. Another client called me late last night to go over the new application we’ve been working on, noting that he appreciated my dedication to the product. Earlier this week I got a video from a third client whose daughter faces a difficult medical challenge. He and his family were interviewed by a local news station about the condition. I was touched that he shared that with me. And on and on with other clients.
I truly like my clients, and the ones I don’t connect with generally move on. The ones who stay around are the people who get a kick out of my blog, want to know about my sister and enjoy sharing stories about their lives with me. I’m not really sure if this is good business, but I don’t really care. It works for me and my clients, and that’s all that counts, right?