In today’s fast-paced technological age, it can be easy to forget what truly drives any small business toward success.
Not social media. Not your email newsletter. Not the latest app or gadget or software that promises to nurture prospects, make coffee and send your girlfriend flowers all while helping you rake in the dough.
Not even your new fancy-pants logo (although, gosh, it’s awfully pretty).
Nope. The secret behind the success of all the things: relationships.
So as a small biz owner with all the things (and climbing) on your to do list today how do you manage to also create and maintain solid relationships with prospects and clients? In order to give you the real report on what works in small business relationships, we decided to go directly to the source: small business owners themselves. What secrets can they offer to help you improve your business relationships?
Small Biz Relationships 101
When it comes down to it, business relationships are not that different from personal relationships (except you’re not as likely to get into arguments over putting the cap back on the toothpaste or picking up your dirty socks).
1. Have a system
You’ve heard it before: Relationships take work. And when things are busy and hectic and there’s no end in sight, having a system in place can make the difference between customers who are purring like happy kittens and customers who feel ignored and not-so special.
Brainstorm and map out exactly how you’d prefer to be treated and followed up with when you’re the customer. Make note of all the touch points where customers come into contact with your business, and all the additional moments you can take the extra step of reaching out uninvited, just to strengthen the relationship.
2. Make them feel special
There is a reason that the honeymoon phase of a new relationship feels so magical. Beyond the rush of new emotions—both parties are normally in wooing mode. Everyone is on their best behavior and little touches, like handwritten love notes, flowers or chocolates from your beloved make you feel lightheaded and giddy.
While you’re probably not going to make your clients feel quite that flutter in their hearts, you can go the extra mile to woo them.
3. Make them feel important
We know you’re juggling a million balls in the air at all times, even, sometimes, while you sleep.
[This is actually quite impressive when you think about it – go you.]
But your customer wants to feel like she’s the only girl in your world. Focus on one customer at a time – or find ways to serve many customers while still making them feel as if they are the one that matters the most.
4. Listen to your mother
Sometimes, it’s the age-old wisdom that holds the test of time. Go back to the old-fashioned basics when it comes to customer relationship building—and you’ll probably find that your mother was right all along (don’t worry, I won’t tell her; she’d never let you live it down).
5. Put the focus back on them
If you are a B2B provider, you have an excellent opportunity to solidify your client relationships. When you connect with a new client or prospect, take the time to familiarize yourself with their offerings. Get to know their business in detail, and when possible—take the step of showing them you truly value what they offer by investing in their product or service.
6. Don’t forget to kiss and make up
Unhappy customers are, unfortunately, a part of doing business. Even with every effort to build and maintain relationships, somewhere along the way you are likely to run into someone who is not quite so over the moon about their experiences with you or your company
(Sigh. did you forget to put the cap back on the toothpaste again?)
When it comes to saving a relationship with an unhappy client, it often takes going above and beyond.
7. If you build it, they will come
Even in today’s world, people are starved for connection; your customers and prospects are no exception. Beyond their need for an additional product or service, your customers are looking to connect with others who feel and think they way that they do. This gives you an unparalleled opportunity to create something that extends beyond your offering and solidifies your brand.
8. Take it slow
With revenue pressures and time shortages, it can be tempting to push for a faster client acquisition and sales cycle, just like in new romantic relationships. The key is stepping back and taking it slow.
9. A little PDA goes a long way
Some love affairs should be shouted from the rooftops.
If you love your customers (and I know you do) take it public.
No, you don’t need to plan an elaborate flash mob aimed at YouTube virility (although if you do, I’ll definitely volunteer to dance).
However, you don’t need to keep your affections under wraps either. Brainstorm ways you can create a little buzz by going public with this particular love affair. Your customers will eat up the affection.
Now, in the name of unprecedented business growth, go forth and relationship build. And for heaven’s sake, put the cap back on that toothpaste.
We would love to hear your favorite secrets for building small business relationships. Just click the image below and you’ll open a twitter window with the following message. Just fill in your favorite tip and press Tweet. We can’t wait to hear from you!