The market has been hard on most of us. However, luckily for me, and my firm, now that the market has started to loosen-up so have sales/marketing service inquiries.
We’re the experts when it comes to integrating marketing and sales strategies, but what frequently surprises me is the lack of general knowledge many business professionals have when it comes to employing basic relationship marketing.
Granted, some marketing programs produce lackluster results, especially if they’re not properly planned for and implemented and don’t have the sales support they need, but there are still tried-and-true essentials any professional can use, starting today, to enhance current client relationships as well as relationships with prospects and leads.
Simple tactics which I often see overlooked:
No in-house list – It can be a painstaking task to develop up-front, but kept up-to-date, your in-house list can be your greatest marketing and sales asset. I suggest collecting addresses and emails for your clients, contacts/referral sources/“champions,” vendors, leads/prospects. Your list can be used for just about anything you need to promote your business – from notifying people of new services/products, inviting them to open houses or free workshops, to wishing them a great holiday. It is the easiest, most cost-efficient way to connect with your contacts regularly, thereby helping you remain top-of-mind with clients.
Lack of follow-up – If someone is interested in using your services, follow-up with them within 24 hours of your discussion. If you do not hear back from your lead, follow-up with them again within the next 2-3 days. I recommend picking up an old-fashioned piece of hardware on our desk (telephone) to make the connection. I recommend that phone because too many people are resistant to using it these days, but that’s for another blog. Speaking by phone will build your relationship more quickly and will better relay to your new contact what type of personality you have, which allows them to build a more positive mental picture of you and how you can help their business. (i.e. the “I like you and trust you, so I’ll do business with you” feeling.)
Not asking for referrals – This is a very small, yet effective way to remain in the forefront of your happy clientele’s mind when they’re out and about. If your business relies on referrals, ask for them. It can be something as simple as speaking or writing to a client after they’ve told you how happy they are with your service, saying something such as: “You’re welcome. We’re happy you’ve been more than satisfied with our services. Please feel free to keep us in mind if you know other folks who could use a firm like ours. Have a great afternoon.”
Regularly contact your clients – This is especially important if you live in the B2B world, where you need to maintain long-standing relationships in order to sustain regular business from a set group of clients. Find small ways to regularly be infront of your clients. Send articles that relate to their business (“I found this and thought you’d appreciate reading it as well.”). Invite them to networking events you plan to attend and help them develop new relationships. Send them personally written notes about how you appreciate their business. Don’t be an annoyance, be a value-added bonus of their relationship with you and a virtual part of their team.
Don’t take a backseat attitude when it comes to building and maintaining business relationships. Sit-and-wait strategies don’t work and these tactics can help push you in a positive direction.
Amber Stidham is the director of strategic planning for Imagine Marketing.