endcoldcallingforever

The ROI is Always in the Relationship!


Leave a comment

Magnetic Gratitude

Magnetic Gratitude

Magnetic people share something in common, an attitude of gratitude and a love of life and the people in theirs!

I started a gratitude journal this year and this reflection has made my personal and business relationships so much stronger. When we become grateful for the little things in life we realize that they actually reign in a positive and powerful way.  Our attitudes towards our spouse, friends, employees, co-workers, clients and vendors dramatically changes.

My first journal entries contained a few elements for which I’m grateful.  My list gets longer and longer each day!  Things that bring a smile to my face; like the ability to purchase nutritious food, wake up in a warm bed while others are sleeping on the streets, down a glass of clean drinking water and work with an amazing team at a fulfilling job!

This leads me to my great discovery! When you truly reflect on what you’re most grateful for in life it’s not the cars, the house, the material possessions but the people, the relationships, intangible joys that bring meaning and purpose to continue cultivating great relationships both with the people around us and with ourselves.

Having a grateful heart and finding the pleasures in small things makes us focus on the positive, the abundance rather than the scarcity. My challenge would be this;

If you’re a membership coordinator at an association, will you reflect on how many engaged members are positively impacting your organization or the members who didn’t renew? Will you show appreciation to your existing members for their loyalty and what focus is more fulfilling?

If you’re a fundraiser, will you focus on the donor who has stayed committed to your cause for the past ten years or dwell on the fact that his or her level of sponsorship went from gold to silver? Will you show your sincere thanks by letting them know just how much you value their contribution?

If you’re an entrepreneur, will you look at a 5% growth this quarter and wish you had met your 10% goal or thank the clients who made it possible to realize growth while so many others in your industry are struggling to remain at status quo?

Gratitude is a wonderful way to keep our personal and professional relationships in perspective.  Show your gratitude today with a small inexpensive gift or random act of kindness towards someone who has made you thankful!

 

 


1 Comment

Something went wrong! Hooray!

Oh no! The order went wrong, the client is not happy! Take a moment, a brief moment, to cringe and move on!

Errors present a wonderful opportunity to show your character and create a pivotal point in any relationship.  Sales are no exception.

The minute something goes wrong, take charge and contact your client.  Forget email and reach out in a personal way with a phone call.  I’ve said it before, email just doesn’t do authenticity any justice. First apologize for the error and recognize the implications this has on the individual.  Perhaps this potentially tarnishes their reputation with their boss or their clients, but not for long!

Error rectification means tackling the issue head on.  Admit the error, taking ownership even if it’s not your fault.  It means accepting the challenge with an upbeat attitude and providing solutions! Make sure your client feels that you’re in control and you’re handling the issue.  You’re creating a “good news” story for them and need some time to work on a brilliant and prompt outcome.

Sometimes error rectification means losing money in the short-term but gaining a client for life in the long run. One of our clients recently received some defective goods.  The supplier was at fault but I stepped up to the plate, took ownership and took a hit of about $3000 for the error.  I didn’t doubt my client’s concerns, but rather fully justified their feelings and went to work on a more than acceptable solution.  By doing so, I lost three thousand dollars on the initial order but shortly thereafter secured an ecstatic client by replacing the goods with a higher value product and closing a $47,000.00 deal that same week!

Your clients need to know you have their best interests in mind.  Your insurance on errors puts the buyer at ease and allows for a fruitful and prosperous long-term partnership.

As Jeffrey Gitomer would say, go for the “wow”.  Most people don’t and most people lose clients when things go wrong, but what a shame to waste a wonderful relationship changing opportunity. Hooray!


1 Comment

It’s NOT About You!

When it comes to building great business relationships, professionals must realize that it’s not about them.  People are only interested in themselves. They like to talk about themselves and its human nature that clients want to know “What’s in it for me?”

The fastest way to build rapport with a client or prospect is to ask them questions about themselves.  This could initially be personal questions to find some common ground while being respectful of people’s privacy and then leading to business related questions.

 

What do your client’s treasure most? • Their children • Their job • Their community work • Their new car • Their upcoming vacation

Find out what your client or prospect is most excited about and ask genuine questions.  Questions will show your client that it’s not all about the money and that you’re a great listener and care about them as a person.

Have you ever had lunch with someone, you asked all the questions and they happily told you their life story. At the end of the meal they told you were a great conversationalist and really interesting?  Well they found you interesting because you first became interested in them.  You gave them an opportunity to be in the spotlight to share their excitement, maybe unload their challenges and you listened with respect and sincerity.

In the end, it’s not about you, it’s not about me, and it’s about our clients, donors and members.   Listening and coming from a place of genuine interest is one of the fundamental roots to building great business relationships!


1 Comment

Prosperous Vendor Relationships

We all know that the relationships with have with our clients, donors and members are important to the success of our business.  What we may not have considered is the relationship we have with our vendors and how that affects our success.

In the promotional products industry our vendors can be treated very poorly by distributors.  I’ve seen this treatment first hand when I worked for another organization.  When I started my own business I made a commitment that I would never treat my vendors poorly.  In fact, I would treat vendors like clients! Imagine the difference in the approach to a relationship with this attitude.  It means asking my suppliers to lunch and actually treating them rather than expecting them to foot the bill.  Treating my vendors like clients means that the lunch is about getting to know them on a personal level. This is also a great opportunity to network to perhaps connect them to someone else who may impact their business or personal life.  Did they mention they were going on a trip? Perhaps there’s a super travel agent I can refer them to.  The relationship is two-sided and genuine.

A great relationship with a supplier means being honest about how urgent your deadlines are.  If something is a rush, I state rush and they know I’m truthful about it.  Rather than placing every order as an urgent request my vendors know that I’m flexible. They can call on us if they need some cooperation to shuffle my order to accommodate someone else that needs a product produced urgently.  Having open communication and a respectful relationships means they know I’m approachable and flexible and it means that if I’m ever in a rushed position they will pull through for me.

When something does go wrong, great vendor partnerships approach dealing with the situation with respect and patience.  It means collecting the facts, picking up the phone and working on a solution that’s a win-win.  It doesn’t mean trying to screw your supplier over for making you look bad, or a heated email that could sever the relationships completely. It means working together to “wow” your client in the end building loyalty to your supplier as well as keeping a client for life.

In the end, having a mutually beneficial relationship with your vendor or supplier will increase your productivity.  The more you can rely on a few sources rather than hundreds of sources to do a great job, the more quickly you get things done and can move on to other tasks at hand. When vendor relationships are based on trust, honesty and respect it’s amazing how smoothly a transaction can run.

Write a personal note to one of your vendors today! It’s a new year, let them know you’re excited about growing your business with them and thank them for their support in the past. I guarantee a positive return!


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.