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The ROI is Always in the Relationship!


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Follow up Matters

 

Keeping your word and following up when you say you will, builds your credibility as a professional.

Great relationship marketers make notes and have electronic reminders to ensure they give the people they serve the best possible care possible.  This means making notes at a tradeshow and then sending yourself a reminder to follow up. It means blocking time off the day you return from an event and make the day dedicated to phone calls, personal notes or proposals.

By pre-planning brochures or media kits to send a client you have promised builds a sense of comfort with your prospect.  I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve attended and the exhibitor promised a follow up and never followed through.  Immediately my view of this individual changes and it affects our future dealings.

If on the other hand I meet with someone at a networking function, tradeshow or business meeting and they promise to follow up with specific information and actually do, this puts a deposit in the relationship bank.  I view this person as a professional and accountable business partner. Great relationship marketers call when they say they will, arrive on time for meetings and follow up promptly.

Great follow up isn’t limited to the first contact after meeting someone.  Relationships are built on consistency which breeds familiarity and comfort thus developing a trustworthy bond.

It’s important to follow up with prospects, and more importantly – existing clients.  Many people forget about existing clients once the sale is made.

Here are 4 great ways you can stay in touch with clients so that they know you care about their wellbeing and success well after the transaction.

1. Personal call – follow up one month or six months down the road to ensure that your client is experiencing the benefits you promised. Without this call you may never hear about any challenges the client is having which may result in a lost relationship in the future.

2. Personal note – send a past patronage card to thank them for their previous business. Imagine your car salesman sent you a note one year in to your purchase thanking you for your business! How would you feel about this person? Would you be more likely to tell others about his or her professionalism?  This is a great way to position yourself during a time when your services are not top-of-mind with your clients.  You remain on their radar so when a friend or family member mentions the need for a new vehicle they immediately think of you.

3. Unsolicited proposal – see a new product or opportunity that your client might benefit from? Perhaps there’s a special on an existing product or service that they’ve used in the past, send them the information so they know you’re thinking of them. Your clients will appreciate that you went out of your way to inform them.

4. Article of Interest – send an electronic or physical copy of an article you find that may benefit or interest your client, member or donor.  Did they mention that they are gluten free? Perhaps send them a link to a recipe for gluten-free cupcakes.  I had lunch with a financial advisor once who did this and I was floored.  Clearly she paid attention to my menu selection and then followed up by email with a website link!  I was impressed and did it cost her anything to do? No.  Did it make a lasting impression? Absolutely!

 

Follow up can be done in many different ways.  The key is to do so when you promise that you will and then surprise clients, members and donors with unexpected acts of thoughtfulness to enhance the relationship.


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Tact and Grace

 

Great relationships are based on making others feel good which at times requires tact and grace.  A mutually beneficial relationship lets both parties feel trust, appreciation and loyalty.  Relationships aren’t built overnight and take time to foster and grow.

I feel compelled to share a personal story this week.  Over the past four days I’ve been at our national conference.  I’ve attended wonderful workshops, seen new products at our tradeshow and have reconnected with some incredible vendors.

One tradeshow vendor, let’s call him “Bob”, pulled me aside and this is how the conversation went:

“Nikki, I didn’t want to leave you a voicemail or email about this because sometimes it just doesn’t come out right” (agreed).  He continues to say, “I’ve pitched my product line to your team twice now and you haven’t sent me any business” (Self-interests perhaps?).  “Nikki, the reality is that, as I’m sure you can relate as you’re dealing with your customers” (rather assuming) “that if you spent time presenting to a customer and they didn’t buy from you, you would have to invest your time elsewhere.  It just makes good business sense”.

Wow! Well once I picked myself up off the floor, I smiled at Bob and thanked him for his time. I assured him that the lack of business on our part wasn’t personal and it was just a case of his line not being time of mind on a day-to-day basis.  As I walked away from his booth I felt slighted then sorry for Bob.  See what Bob didn’t realize was that our team appreciated his visits. We even included his line along with the other apparel lines we normally share with our clients in a number of proposals.  We even did an e-mail blitz shortly after his presentations but as time passed we simply forgot about his company.

As I walked the showroom floor, I thought about how that was a perfect example of how not to build a relationship!  We can learn a lot about relationship marketing from Bob.  I’m reminded that if a client buys elsewhere the ownership is on me, the sales person.  For instance, if I were to walk in to an office of a current client and see that their lobby was filled with two hundred gift baskets and my company didn’t provide them, well I have two choices.  I can be tactless, like Bob and get defensive or I can communicate grace and humility.  I can recognize that clearly I didn’t communicate to this client that our company offered Christmas baskets. Perhaps they were unaware that this was part of our line in addition to branded office supplies and promotional merchandise. I could remind them just how much I appreciate their patronage and mention that I’d be happy to provide some ideas the next time they’re sourcing out gift baskets. The worst case scenario of course would be to make my client feel guilty for not purchasing from me just like Bob did.


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Complacency- The ROI Killer

 

You may have heard the statistics before but they’re worth mentioning again.  When a client stops working with an organization there are a few factors involved, perhaps a geographic move, a death or they no longer have a need for the service.  However a staggering 68% of customers will leave an organization to go work with, or purchase from, another company because of perceived indifference on the vendor’s part! Even if the original company provided an excellent service at the time, great product and pricing the client will leave if they feel the supplier is unappreciative of their patronage. That’s a compelling reason to stay in constant contact with your clients!

Here are 6 easy ways to stay connected with your clients…

1. Handwritten note – send clients a personal note thanking them for their past business.  Remind them that you’re there as a resource to provide new ideas or answer any questions they have about trends in your market.

2. Personal call – phone your clients, check in and make sure that they know you’re available to them.  Let them know you want to make sure you’re being proactive about their account.  This is not a sales call, this is a call conduct a temperature check on the service you’re providing and thank them for their business.

3. Stop by – if you’re in the area, stop by your client’s office.  Drop off a promotional piece discreetly branded with your company name and information.  Thank them once again for their loyalty to your organization and remind them that you’re there to help in any way you can. Your useful gift will serve as a goodwill piece as well as generate residual marketing exposure in your client’s workspace or home.

4. Network – connect existing clients to other clients that may have the potential for a strategic partnership.  Introduce your contacts to one another.  Remember, looking for ways to help your clients reach their goals is a surefire way to solidify your relationship and communicate that you care about them as a person in addition to the business they bring to your organization.

5. Unsolicited proposals – if you come across a special offer or important market update that will benefit your client, be sure to be proactive with proposals.  If you’re selling a product, have they purchased something in the past that is currently on special? Reach out and let them know you came across an offer that they may want to take advantage of.  If you’re in the service business, perhaps a mortgage broker and interests rates have lowered and your client can take advantage of some significant savings, be proactive and send an unsolicited offer.

6. Lunches –schedule a lunch with your clients.  Now is the time to listen to what’s happening in their world.  It’s not time to pitch a new idea or ask for a sale.  Lunches are a wonderful way to reconnect and hear about your client’s goals, dreams, aspirations and challenges.  Naturally you’ll discuss business matters but keep lunches light and focused on getting to know your client.  Thank them once again for the business and remind them that you’re always around if they have any questions or concerns about the company.

Remember, complacency is a silent killer! Many people who feel you’re indifferent to their business will simply leave and go elsewhere.  Be sure to take action with one or a combination of these strategies to further increase loyalty and ultimately the bottom-line.


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Lifetime Value of a Client

 

We’ve all heard the expression that it costs less to retain an existing client than it does to attract a new one.

Marketing efforts should be focused on your existing members, donors and clients. This means that your time and energy should be put towards building lasting relationships with the people who are currently loyal to your organization.

So often, businesses are focused on marketing to a cold prospect while ignoring the immense opportunities that lie in your existing database.  Let’s take a look at client value and I hope you’ll be able to agree with me that nurturing existing relationships will pay huge dividends in the long run. Your existing member spends $1000.00 annually for their membership.  Perhaps there’s some dissatisfaction that member has voiced they leave.  Will the association lose $1000.00 in revenue? We’ll no, not really, you’ve actually lost much more than that.  Does the average member belong to your association for 5 years, 10 years, perhaps event 20 years?  When that’s the case, we need to examine the lifetime value of the membership which means that an unhappy member reflects a loss upwards of $5000.00, $10,000.00 and $20,000.00!

Your donor who typically spends the same amount each year and choses to go with another charity will result in a similar loss.

For entrepreneurs, we often think “oh well that was only a $500.00 loss” but how many times would that client normally purchase from you?  Is it three times a year? Ten times a year? If it were ten times a year at $500.00 and the relationship has been severed and perhaps that client had a ten year potential that $500.00 would actually be more like $50,000.00 in lost revenue.

That’s a staggering number and that doesn’t even include the typical amount of business that client may have referred you over the years. So enough of the doom and gloom, I put those numbers there to illustrate the importance of relationship building in business and appreciating the lifetime value of the people we serve.

Spend your time and energy nurturing the relationships from your current client base.  Make sure that they know how much their patronage means to you.  Do small inexpensive things to remind your clients just how important they are.  Send a personally handwritten note, set up a quarterly meeting intended as a discovery session.  Check the temperature of their account.  Are they pleased with the service you’re providing, could you do anything to improve your service. This meeting is not a sales call, you’re letting your member/donor/client know that you don’t want to become complacent and value their business.

Proactively spend your marketing budgets and efforts on your existing relationships and think of each client’s lifetime value.  This will significantly impact your day-to-day dealings and the way in which you handle each transaction!


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Another Slice of Humble Pie

I have to share a client success story with you! As you know, I’m a big believer in personal notes and one of the unconventional times I encourage clients to send notes is when they DON’T get the business.
In …this case, the gentleman I was working with took my advice and won a handsome commission as a result!
Someone came in to purchase a vehicle from his dealership. The family ended up purchasing their car elsewhere, another brand actually. I encouraged him to follow up with a note to thank them for their time and remind them that he was there as a resource for their friends and family in the future.
The recipient was so impressed by my client’s humility as well as personal care that they immediately referred him to a friend looking to purchase a vehicle.
A week after the card had been sent; the referred prospect walked in and purchased a vehicle because this salesman left such an impression!
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I’m confident his story is shared at dinner parties within this circle of friends, wonderful impression made and another slice of humble piece that leaves a great taste in everyone’s mouth!


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Mummy Tantrum

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Mommy Tantrum
As I write this blog I’m visiting the beautiful island of St. Lucia! It’s an incredible place and the people are some of the warmest, most polite and happiest I’ve ever met.
I feel compelled to write about a situation I witnessed in the front lobby that both angered me and had me thinking extensively about human behaviour….
I was at the booking desk to make reservations for dinner. Our amazing little resort has a buffet style dinner each night but in addition to that you can also book for different restaurants to experience Italian, Seafood and fine French dining.
As I approached the desk, a young mother was literally tearing a strip off of the booking clerk because she wanted to get into the fully booked restaurant that evening.
Her tantrum was appalling and I, along with her husband, was embarrassed by her treatment of the most gracious hostess.
She said a number of ridiculous things but one stood out that nearly prompted me to take the gloves off.  She told the clerk that she was furious her children (about 1 and 3) would be FORCED to eat at the same restaurant twice in a row!
What Miss Mommy Tantrum missed to realize in her haze or pure narcissism was that a number of children on this island don’t have food to eat tonight let alone, gasp, having the same meal twice!
Her meltdown brought a few things into perspective for me. One, we live in such abundance that we’re blind to how the rest of the world lives.
Two, we are about as happy as we decide we’re going to be.  You’re on a beautiful island, eat at the same damn restaurant twice and enjoy the incredible view, weather and warm people.
Three, do we treat our vendors with the respect they deserve or do we tantrum like Mommy here setting an example for our team members in the process?
All food for thought!