5 Qualities B2B Marketers Should Look for in Clients
Clients don't always make life easy for themselves—or for the companies they work with. Sometimes it doesn't matter how professional you are, how productive you've been, or how much progress you've made: They're seemingly determined to frustrate your best efforts, dismiss your best ideas, and prevent you from doing what you've been paid to do. As CRM problems go, it's a uniquely awful one: By the time it's manifested, it's often too late to do anything about it.
While it's easy enough to write off bad clients, it's more important to praise the good ones: those rare jewels who understand that CRM is a two-way street, and that it's in everyone's interest if your business relationship is characterized by friendliness, positivity, and mutual respect. In nearly a decade of B2B entrepreneurship, I've had all manner of experiences. Some clients were so good that we're still working together to this day. Some were so adversarial, awkward, and downright difficult that if they ever come to my place of business again, I may challenge them to single combat!
Having spent time with both kinds, I've found that the following five qualities are always present in the best clients—and always absent in the worst. Here's what you should look for—or from a client company's perspective, how you should strive to be.
Good clients give access. A good client freely offers you the information you need to do your job. This is especially important in fields such as marketing and PR: If a client is not willing to talk about a project or announcement in detail, then they're plainly not ready to promote it. When you can't get comment for a press release, or if a client won't provide a clear outline of their position for an opinion piece, it makes everyone's lives more difficult. A desire to play cards close to the chest is understandable, but not when it descends into paranoia.
No halfway reputable company will ever compromise a nondisclosure agreement: It's illegal, it's impractical, and it harms their reputation. (Who on earth would ever work with them afterward?) With financial information and private employee data, there's a reasonable need for secrecy; most everything else, however, should be fair game. News of their big product launch isn't going to "leak," because unless they're in the FTSE 250, almost nobody outside the company will care.
When clients are open and accessible, you don't have to rely on outdated information stored in a creaking CRM database. The best clients help you help them, and offer their full and unequivocal trust.
Good clients are responsive. Unresponsiveness might be the least malicious quality of a bad client, but it's also the most annoying. When clients don't take your calls or respond to your emails, everything you do for them grinds to a thudding halt.
Again: CRM is a two-way street. If clients expect you to be responsive, available, and accommodating of their needs, they should return the favor. If they don't, it harms productivity, destroys good opportunities, and prevents them from working on things that really matter.