If you want to build extremely healthy and fruitful relationships with your clients, you need to invest a little time and money into wining and dining. It might seem expensive on the front end, but you’ll enjoy an extremely positive ROI over the long haul.
4 Powerful Tips
People like to feel special. They like to know that they’re appreciated, desired, and respected. If you can manage to make a customer feel these things, they’re far more likely to continue choosing you over the competition. It makes high customer loyalty and retention much more realistic pursuits.
Wining and dining customers doesn’t mean sucking up to them. Instead, the goal is to show them that you care. Here are several tips:
- Make a Strong First Impression
It’s difficult to overcome a bad first impression. Likewise, a great first impression leaves an indelible mark that doesn’t soon disappear (even if something negative happens later on).
The neat thing about first impressions is that they’re formed on both a “micro” and “macro” scale. In other words, there’s the “big picture” first impression that was formed the first time you met the client and interacted with them. (There’s nothing you can do to go back and change that first impression. It’s already there.)
But there are also micro first impressions that happen each time you meet a client. That means if you’re taking a client out for a weekend golfing getaway, they form a first impression of the weekend the moment they see you.
Make a strong first impression when entertaining clients by wowing them the moment you greet them. If they’re coming in from out of town, get a private airport transfer to pick them up and take them to their hotel. This creates a lasting impression and makes them feel cared for.
- Bond Over Food
There’s something about food that brings people together. When you share a dinner table with someone, it creates somewhat of an even playing field. As people, we all need and enjoy food. And there’s something about gathering around a table that creates really good conversation and positive associations with one another.
If you’re really trying to wow a client, find a nice restaurant in your area and call ahead to request a “chef’s table.” This is where the chef will actually meet with you and your guests and explain/prepare the meal in front of you. Afterward, you get to enjoy the meal and conversate with the chef. Not all restaurants will do this, but many upscale ones will.
“When choosing a restaurant, take clients’ interests into account. If several recently vacationed in the south of France or in Japan, design the menu around classic local dishes. It shows you follow their lives, and also allows them to share travel anecdotes during dinner,” sales expert Jessica Bruno writes. “If a restaurant doesn’t host chef’s tables, it may still offer a wine tasting.”
As you can see, the goal is to create an experience out of the meal. When you combine good food with a unique experience, it makes the outing that much more memorable.
- Bring Multiple Clients Together
Don’t underestimate the power of bringing multiple clients together for one event. In addition to being more cost-effective (and efficient for your calendar), this creates bonding opportunities. It takes away some of the pressure to sustain the entire conversation and makes for a more relaxed environment. The only downside to this is that you might not get 1-on-1 time with each client.
- Follow Up Afterward
Don’t stop wining and dining once the client goes home. A good follow-up strategy goes a long way toward making the experience more memorable.
One good idea is to send a gift 24 hours after the dinner. This could be a physical gift (like a bottle of wine) or something totally unique, like a book that you suggested they read. You could also send a gift card to the restaurant where you dined.
Wow Your Customers
When you wine and dine your customers, you give yourself more relational equity with them. Suddenly, it’s not just about buying a product or service from you. They actually feel an emotional connection with you.
In some cases, your clients might even become your friends. And at this point, it’s difficult for them to end their working relationship with you and choose one of your competitors. With this in mind, you can think of wining and dining as an investment in customer retention.