As you know sales are the lifeblood of your business – and without a steady stream of fresh enquires your cash flow will suffer.
Despite this, securing a sale NOW should not be your sole focus. Instead you need to invest your energy in finding and then keeping customers. And whilst this approach requires more patience and longer-term planning, your business will reap the rewards in the end.
That’s because it’s rare for people to buy the first time they stumble across you. And there are lots of reasons for this resistance.
- Perhaps you offer a service they think they don’t need.
- Maybe that networking event wasn’t enough to properly suss you out.
- It may even be a matter or budget or poor timing that means there’s no chance of a deal being on the table.
However, that doesn’t mean they will never buy from you.
So when it comes to marketing your business, it’s not enough to promote your product or service. You also need to focus on building a relationship between you and the prospects who fall within your customer avatar description.
A focus on relationship building is crucial for your success
People are more likely to do business with someone they like. So whilst your product / service is important, as a small business owner YOU are also a key part of the equation. In fact, how potential customers feel about you will influence their buying decisions.
If there’s no relationship, it will be far more difficult to persuade someone to buy. In comparison, if a prospect feels some sort of connection with you, they will be a lot more responsive to what you have on offer.
Here’s what having a relationship with your customers can open up for your business…
- You build the know, like, trust factor.
- You create a personality that makes you real.
- You start to position yourself as an authority in your chosen field.
- You become the expert that people go to for advice and information.
- You can subtly enter the conversations that are already happening around your customer’s kitchen table.
- You can enter into 2-way conversation with people.
- You start to emerge from the crowd and differentiate yourself from the competition.
- You become a welcome guest instead of an annoying salesperson.
- You can become worth knowing because you add value.
What’s more, over time, you could become the only buying choice when the customer is ready.
What strategies can create a relationship?
So we’ve established building a relationship with your prospects is a very smart thing to do. Unfortunately relationships don’t happen by accident. What’s more, you’ll need to put in most of the leg-work. But fortunately there are lots of relatively easy things you can do to encourage your target customer to turn to you.
Blogging is still relevant (when done with strategy) and here’s why:
- A blog provides visitors to your website with something other than a sales pitch to read.
- Well written articles can position you as an expert and an authority.
- You can start a dialogue in the comments.
- You allow website visitors a glimpse into your personality and your style.
- If you publish regularly, you’ll train and encourage “fans” to return for more.
In addition, Google rewards websites that offer up fresh, relevant content by ranking them higher. In short if you’re not blogging, you’re missing out
2. Write a free, valuable eBook and give it away
Whilst blogs are great for positioning, it’s difficult to build a meaningful connection with someone through commenting and social media shares alone. The next step to a more intimate relationship is to get into someone’s inbox.
Now this is not as easy as it sounds. People are becoming more and more reluctant to share their email address which means you need to offer up a valuable incentive. A free eBook that tackles a common customer problem, shares valuable information (that goes beyond what you offer on your blog) or describes some quality hints and tips can be highly persuasive. And the result? You start to build a list of prospects who you know already like your style.
3. Stay in touch with email and newsletters
Once you have an email address, you can start to build a relationship on a more personalised level through email and printed newsletters. Create a strategy. Communicate frequently, be interesting and add value. When people actively look forward to seeing you show up, you know you’ve cracked it.
4. Invite feedback and initiate 2-way conversations
Many businesses fall into the trap of filling their prospects inboxes with sales pitches. Do this and you’ll risk customers tuning out and unsubscribing. Instead:
- Start conversations.
- Get people thinking.
- Be useful and helpful.
- Ask what people think.
- Ask how you can help etc.
Do this and customers won’t hear you as someone’s who’s trying to sell. Instead they’ll label you as someone who genuinely wants to help and who can add value to their business. It’s a far more effective approach.
5. Make timely offers
Now don’t lose sight of the fact that you want to make a sale. After all we’re talking about business, not a hobby! What’s more, you have something of value to offer to prospects and you want to be rewarded in return. So in amongst your value communication, do invite people to buy through targeted offers with a deadline that encourage action NOW.
What do you think?
How do you build relationships with customers? What’s worked best for you? Please let me know in the comments below.