Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Rainbow Data Systems, Inc. & Integration Edge
I’ve disappointed Rick Springfield. He told me not to talk to strangers, but I lean more toward young Forrest Gump’s philosophy of business development. Remember the first time he got on the bus to school? There are plenty of services that allow your sales team to send hundreds of emails extolling the virtues of your products/services to strangers. There are even companies with the technology to make hundreds of cold calls for you and when the prospect answers the phone, transfer the call to a sales rep waiting to pitch. I’m usually a big fan of automation, but why would a company reveal their pain points to you when they don’t know, like, or trust you yet? This is why Relationship Marketing is so important.
What Is It?
Relationship Marketing is simply building long-term, trusting relationships with strangers; essentially, developing clients into friends. When your friends face challenges, you want to be the first person they contact for a solution. You should feel the same way about your clients. People need to know you’re authentic in order to trust you. You must be the same person to your clients as you are to your cousins. Unless you’re Tom Hanks, you can’t act like different people in your relationships. Being inauthentic is exhausting and counterproductive.
How Does It Work?
Mom is right. If you want to make a friend, be a friend. Take the initiative. Network. Communicate. Be curious. Provide value without an agenda. Businesses are run by people. Go where the people are. Get personal. Do your homework. There is so much information at your fingertips (e.g., company websites, LinkedIn, business newspapers/websites), find out what their business does and their role in it. Figure out how you can help. The companies you want to partner with need revenue to survive. How can your company help them either attract customers or save money on their operations? Do they have a problem your company doesn’t fix? Do you know someone who does? Introduce them. While this doesn’t bring you revenue now, proving you want what’s best for their business demonstrates you can be trusted to put their interests before your own. Having a mindset of their success means your success. We get further together than we do on our own.
Why Does It Work?
Giving your clients great experiences differentiates your company from your competition. You have to go beyond persuading them to believe in your brand. Your clients want to be seen. They want you to help them solve their unique issues. They want to give you permission to be on their team. They do not want content forced on them. They want to learn what your company has to offer and what you can do for them in their own time using the communication channels they favor. I can’t think of one business owner who enjoys having their day interrupted by a cold sales call or sifting through all the cold emails they receive daily. However, I can think of several who appreciated a congratulations-on-your-latest-success LinkedIn message.