For our latest KM Q&A, we sat down with Shannon Hernandez, Executive Vice President at KellyMitchell, to talk about how to develop strong relationships with clients. We meet with her via video call while she was in the middle of moving cross county with her family. True to form, Shannon did not miss a beat.
Shannon brings almost two decades of experience to her role as EVP. In her current role, Shannon oversees Enterprise, Strategic, and MSP partnerships on a national level to make sure KM exceeds client expectations and helps our partners overcome workforce challenges. Shannon helps us build relationships with clients in the Fortune 100 and 500 space who are looking for highly skilled IT talent.
She is a role model for all of us at KM as we strive to build strong bonds with clients. One of the most challenging parts of partnering with clients is keeping the relationship active and mutually rewarding; almost half of executives actively focus on this dynamic, according to a report from BPI Network. We’re lucky because Shannon makes building strong partnerships look easy.
As we discussed in our conversation with Shannon, it’s a good time to build partnerships in the IT space. The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation in business, so more companies need niche IT talent to help them get up to speed. More than half of companies are investing more in building staffing partnerships, according to a recent report from LogicMonitor, and at KM, we welcome the opportunity to create innovative solutions for clients. Here is what Shannon shared with us about building strong relationships with clients:
How do you approach building and managing client relationships today?
Our industry has evolved significantly over the years but our approach at KellyMitchell has remained consistent: we are patiently persistent in our pursuit and expansion of our client relationships. We’re purposeful about the clients we build relationships with and are cognizant of our core capabilities, geographic footprints, and how we can add value to a client’s supply chain. When building new relationships, it’s a fine line; you want to make sure you’re in the client’s peripheral vision but not overwhelming in your outreach. We also always make sure actions meet up with words, so we always deliver when we say we will.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your years of working with clients?
Basic customer service goes such a long way. At KellyMitchell, we live by the mantra, “Our job is to make your job easier.” We’re always quick to respond and work hard to offer solutions for clients.
Another lesson I’ve learned is, not all clients are created equal and not all partnerships are feasible. Do not hesitate to tell a potential client, “This isn’t a good fit for us, but we hope to do business in the future.” We also recommend not pursuing projects that do not align with your core capabilities.
Why do you think developing strong relationships with clients is valuable for a company?
Strong relationships are at the core of business, regardless of what industry you serve. Clients decide to partner with a company because of the values and services it provides. As a partner, it is important to be an ongoing learner of a client’s business. Follow them in the marketplace and become a subject matter expert in their field. This allows you to provide a higher level of service.
At KellyMitchell, our goal is to be an extension of our clients. This means building strong relationships with different stakeholders. There are always moving parts in a project, so it’s important to have several stakeholders at a company who understand your value proposition and what you bring to the table.
What advice do you have for other leaders looking to build strong relationships with clients?
Educate yourself about a business to become an expert in the areas your client serves. Proactively send clients information or market data they might not be privy to. Those little efforts go such a long way in building strong client relationships.
Also, strive to understand clients’ struggles and how you can offer solutions. Spending time with a client to understand their pain points and communicating how you can provide solutions will set you apart from the competition.