Strategies to Keep Your Business Relationships Fresh

Strategies to Keep Your Business Relationships Fresh

I’ve been working for several years with the same client. How can I keep the relationship fresh?
 

If you’re not careful, the virtues of a long-term relationship can quickly become vices. Over time, you may take your client for granted and become complacent. How do you prevent this and keep things fresh and vital? Here are some strategies you should try:

Treat all old clients like new clients. 
 

You have to bring the same enthusiasm, new ideas, effort, and excitement to the 100th meeting with your clients that you demonstrated in the first meeting when you were wooing them.

Ask, “What would my competitors do to try and win this client’s business?” This is not a rhetorical question because your competitors are regularly trying to win a greater share of your client’s business. Think through what their strategies might be, and consider taking these actions yourself.

Change horses. A few large firms I know will systematically rotate some team members off of a client relationship once they have been there for a certain period of time, usually a year or two. This is good for your staff and also good for the client, because it can bring fresh thinking into the engagement.

Add value in new ways.
 

Is there a well-known academic or industry expert whose ideas would be relevant to your client? Can you use collaboration technologies to better connect with your client? Are there ancillary firms (individuals, boutiques) that you could use to offer something special to your client? Can you connect your client to other clients that you have? Can you bring someone in who can help your client better understand the impact of certain trends? (e.g., the impact of social networking or changing workplace demographics). Could your firm and the client co-develop some intellectual capital together (or co-author an article)? Can you invite your client to host or speak at a conference? Are there long-term fee arrangements that would more closely align your interests as long-term partners?

Related: 4 Winning Strategies for 4 Different Sales Meetings

Alter the relationship experience environment.
 

Over time, you tend to get into habits and routines in the way you manage your relationships. Perhaps you always meet your client in the same office or conference room, and use the same format for presentations and memos. The findings of a recent study of couples who have been married for a number of years may be relevant to this issue. In this study, when couples did the same things they always do—e.g., go to the movies on Saturday night, have dinner at a favorite restaurant on Wednesday, etc.—their feelings about the relationship remained unchanged.

When couples did new things together, however—e.g., when they visited a museum they had never been to or explored a new restaurant, their reported feelings of intimacy and closeness grew noticeably. I am convinced the same applies to professional relationships with clients. Organize an offsite instead of meeting all day in the client’s conference room. Take your client out to dinner with several of your other interesting business contacts. Instead of PowerPoint slides, use oversized sheets of paper that you tape to the walls of the conference room.

Andrew Sobel
Development
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Andrew Sobel is a leading authority on client relationships and the skills and strategies required to earn enduring client loyalty. He is the co-author of the recently re ... Click for full bio

Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily

Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily

What a week it was.

First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the horrific mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Global Investors, I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.

The memory of the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds during last Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere of Blade Runner 2049, which nixed the usual red carpet and other glitz in light of the tragedy. Before the film, producers shared poignant words, saying that in times such as these, the arts are crucial now more than ever.

I had the distinct privilege to attend the premiere. My good friend Frank Giustra, whose production company Thunderbird Entertainment owns a stake in the Blade Runner franchise, was kind enough to invite me along. Despite the somber mood—a pivotal scene in the film even takes place in an irradiated Las Vegas—I thought Blade Runner 2049 was spectacular. Even if you’re not a fan of the original 1982 film, it’s still worth experiencing in theaters. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s synth-heavy score is especially haunting.

CNET recently published an interesting piece examining the accuracy of future tech as depicted in the original Blade Runner, from androids to flying cars to off-world travel read the article here.

Still in the Early Innings of Cryptocurrencies
 

Speaking of the future, I spoke on the topic of the blockchain last week at the Subscriber Investment Summit in Vancouver. My presentation focused on the future of mining—not just of gold and precious metals but also cryptocurrencies.

Believe it or not, there are upwards of 2,100 digital currencies being traded in the world right now, with a combined market cap of nearly $150 billion, according to Coinranking.com.

Obviously not all of these cryptos will survive. We’re still in the early innings. Last month I compared this exciting new digital world to the earliest days of the dotcom era, and just as there were winners and losers then, so too will there be winners and losers today. Although bitcoin and Ethereum appear to be the frontrunners right now, recall that only 20 years ago AOL and Yahoo! were poised to dominate the internet. How times have changed!

It will be interesting to see which coins emerge as the “Amazon” and “Google” of cryptocurrencies.

For now, Ethereum has some huge backers. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), according to its website, seeks to “learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production—Ethereum.” The EEA includes several big-name financial and tech firms such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, whose own CEO, Jamie Dimon, knocked cryptos a couple of weeks ago.

To learn more about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, watch this engaging two-minute video.

Understanding blockchain in two minutes

Will Bitcoin Replace Gold?
 

Lately I’ve been seeing more and more headlines asking whether cryptos are “killing” gold. Would the gold price be higher today if massive amounts of money weren’t flowing into bitcoin? Both assets, after all, are sometimes favored as safe havens. They’re decentralized and accepted all over the world, 24 hours a day. Transactions are anonymous. Supply is limited.

Have gold and bitcoin peaked for 2017

But I don’t think for a second that cryptocurrencies will ever replace gold, for a number of reasons. For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.

Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.

Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.

I will admit, though, that bitcoin is energizing some investors, especially millennials, in ways that gold might have a hard time doing. The proof is all over the internet. You can find a number of TED Talks on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but to my knowledge, none is available on gold investing. YouTube is likewise bursting at the seams with videos on cryptos.

Bitcoin is up 350 percent for the year, Ethereum an unbelievable 3,600 percent. Gold, meanwhile, is up around 10 percent. Producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained 11.5 percent in 2017, 23 percent since its 52-week low in December 2016.

Related: Gold and Bitcoin Surge on North Korea Fears

Look Past the Negativity to Find the Good News
 

The news is filled with negative headlines, and sometimes it’s challenging to stay positive. Take Friday’s jobs report. It showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first month in seven years that this happened. A weak report was expected because of Hurricane Irma, but no one could have guessed the losses would be this deep.

The jobs report wasn’t all bad news, however. For one, the decline is very likely temporary. Beyond that, a record 4.88 million Americans who were previously sitting out of the labor force found work last month. This helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low.

Have gold and bitcoin peaked for 2017

There’s more that supports a stronger U.S. economy. As I shared with you last week, the Manufacturing ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 13-year high in September, indicating rapid expansion in the manufacturing industry. Factory orders were up during the month. Auto sales were up. Oil has stayed in the relatively low $50-a-barrel range, which is good for transportation and industrials, especially airlines. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, continue to climb above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages as excitement over tax reform intensifies.

These are among the reasons why I remain bullish.

One final note: Speaking on tax reform, Warren Buffett told CNBC last week that he’s waiting to sell assets until he knows the plan will go through. “I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million,” he said.

It’s a fair comment, and I imagine other like-minded, forward-thinking investors, buyers and sellers will also wait to make huge transactions if they can help it. Tax reform isn’t a done deal, but I think it has a much better chance of being signed into law than a health care overhaul.

Frank Holmes
Global
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Frank Holmes is the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of U.S. Global Investors. Mr. Holmes purchased a controlling interest in U.S. Global Investors in 1989 and became the firm ... Click for full bio