When do you know you’ve won a client? Is it when the contract is signed? Or when the first invoice is paid?

These are key milestones, but in my experience, winning a client runs deeper. I remember when a prospective client, who was initially quite reserved, started sharing stories, personal anecdotes, and their concerns without me asking, even before our meeting officially began. It felt like a wall had broken, and a genuine connection was formed. Through this gesture, I felt their trust in me and our Firm as advisors and partners that can truly help them. And that’s how I know I’ve won a client.

The truth is, winning a client goes beyond the sales report. Behind every target met is a story of connection, respect, and trust. These connections are the foundation for successful, long-term partnerships. We become part of their growth story. 

Start with a winning mindset

With the role of Business Development and International Liaison Director, I often represent our Firm to both local and global audiences. The role goes beyond developing leads and securing deals; it also involves fostering long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial with clients, business partners, and stakeholders. With that comes the pressure of becoming the best representative of our Firm.

Over time, I developed a genuine interest in understanding and helping clients. Though I started my career as a reserved person, it is this genuine interest that allows me to perform my role in business development and become a confident and engaging representative for our Firm. A common misconception is that roles such as business development require you to be a certain way or have a certain personality. In my opinion, anyone can learn how to win clients, so long as their genuine interest in connecting with people is present. Every moment we share with a client is a BD opportunity, from engaging them with insightful conversations to creating a delightful customer experience. 

Winning clients through both their hearts and minds all starts with a winning mindset. This means cultivating a strong foundation of self-awareness, confidence, and a commitment to building relationships.

Put yourself in their shoes

In my opinion, a key skill needed in Business Development is empathy. Empathy, along with effort, is what will transform a prospective client into a long-term partner in success. In the Forbes article titled “From Strangers to Partners: Building Strong Customer Relationships,” CEO and author Dmytro Lazarchuk stated that understanding the customer relationship conversion process and forming strategic partnerships with your future or existing clients are key to customer loyalty.

You don’t win a client in a day: winning them over is the culmination of many efforts. From branding and positioning your firm as a recognizable, trustworthy, and capable service provider, to personalizing services with customer-centric delivery, to retaining them and building loyalty. Remember that the partnerships you build don’t just bring your organization revenue: if you truly understand and meet their needs, they will also become the best brand ambassadors you can have. 

Our Firm, one of the promises we have to our clients is discovering what’s important to them and making it important for us. After all, every client is different, ranging from their needs to their personalities. Having a customer-centric approach to creating value for the client is key to making these promises a reality.

Value your clients

The best way you can make your clients feel valued is by creating a positive experience for them from start to end.

In an article from Harvard titled “How to Create Positive Customer Experiences for Your Business,” written by Jessica Kent, she shared that the key is branding and building relationships. 

Long before you meet a prospective client face-to-face, lay the groundwork for a positive experience through thorough research. The “Know Your Customer Due Diligence" process involves delving into their industry, company culture, and recent news involving them. This allows us to create a connected and tailored client experience from the very first interaction.

Transparency and value alignment are also paramount. Instead of aiming to quickly secure a deal, focus on building trust by ensuring that both of our organizations' values and goals align. By demonstrating how our expertise complements their vision, you can establish a foundation for a mutually beneficial partnership.  In our Firm, we strive to be trusted business advisors to dynamic organizations. Ensuring that a relationship with a client aligns with this core value of ours is essential.

Genuine Effort, Genuine Connections

It may be intimidating to forge connections with people from diverse backgrounds or to oversee a potential deal worth millions, but here’s a reminder: people connect with people.

  • Respect cultural differences. Simple actions like researching customs and greetings will go a long way in showing that you value your client. Through cultural sensitivity, you can foster trust and create a welcoming environment for communication.
  • Find common ground. Look beyond professional personas. During conversations, explore shared interests and experiences, whether it be a casual discussion about your fur babies or even a passion for a particular sport. After all, regardless of your final agenda, you’re both humans, no matter what your goals are.
  • Embrace curiosity. Allow yourself to be in the room where it happens and be fully present in the conversation. Uncovering your clients’ true needs and aspirations requires you to go beyond the surface level. Do your best to ask insightful questions and show them that you are giving them 100% of your attention. Be genuinely interested in their motivations and aspirations. Show genuine care in helping them succeed. 

By keeping these in mind, you’ll be able to build strong, genuine connections, regardless of background or scale of the deal.

A Lasting Legacy 

In essence, the true legacy of business development has never been about simply finding leads and closing deals. It is about positioning your firm for growth through long-term, valuable partnerships. It is about relationship building. 

When do you know you’ve won a client? Beyond closing a deal, winning a client is when they see us as the right partner in their business growth. After all, truly winning clients entails a continuous journey of collaboration, trust building, and exceeding expectations.

We are invested in our client’s success. The results will follow; it all starts with a winning mindset.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 08 May 2024