Plenty of business principles come and go. Some are trendy flavors of the month that don’t really stand the test of time, while others simply become outdated. There’s one, however, that isn’t going anywhere – building strong relationships.
Establishing authentic connections with others will not only bring you new clients, it will also retain your current ones. It’s arguably the most effective way to make your business thrive.
How and Why It works
When relationships aren’t nurtured, your business becomes forgettable. Take this prime example from a recent survey by National Association of Realtors (NAR) which found that even though 75% of homebuyers would definitely use their real estate agent again, only 13% actually did. Why? Because even though they were happy with their service, the agent didn’t make a lasting impression. The reality is that even if you’re great at what you do, if you don’t take the time to establish meaningful relationships, you won’t gain repeat business or referrals.
The bottom line is a relationship-centric approach attracts and retains more clients. It builds loyalty and trust. You’ll stay top of mind while also making each client feel like a person and not a transaction. It’s a win-win!
How to Put It Into Action
Building genuine business relationships takes time and dedication, but it’s more than worth the effort. So how do you show people that you care and create clients for life? Here are three ways to make it happen:
Technically speaking, a customer database is a central location for storing and keeping track of your client data. That cold definition hardly seems to correspond with building meaningful relationships, does it? That’s why it’s key to reframe how you approach your database by thinking of it as the relational asset of your business. It’s more than facts and numbers; your database is a list of your relationships and a pathway for building connections.
Start by ensuring your database consists of everyone you know. This should include your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues – and even people like your dentist, child’s baseball coach, your accountant and your favorite barista. Your sphere of influence is bigger than you think!
- Leverage Your Database
Once you have everyone added, communicate with them consistently. This means calling them periodically, writing personal notes, delivering small gifts of appreciation and sending them monthly marketing flyers and emails.
Strive to not make your marketing materials promotional. Instead, have them consist of valuable information your clients can actually use. Things like interesting industry-related stats, how-tos and life hacks. This way your contacts will actually feel like you’re attuned to their needs instead of just seeing them as a means to an end. When you consistently communicate with value, your contacts will remember you and appreciate you. That’s how relationships are built and how contacts become clients.
- Be Receptive
Relationships are a two-way street. Make sure that you’re receptive to the wants and desires of your current or potential clients by engaging with them, discovering their pain points and asking for their feedback. When clients feel truly heard and can tell that you’re genuinely committed to providing them with stellar service, they’ll stay loyal to your business and rave about you to others. To quote Maya Angelou, “[…] people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Positive feelings create lasting client relationships!
While it may be easier, attracting one-time clients who never return or refer you to others won’t help your business grow long-term. But when you commit to cultivating strong relationships with your contacts and clients, you’ll achieve lasting success. Working in a relational way is a powerful business principle that will never go out of style.