In B2B sales, people don’t buy from companies; they buy from other people. Every business lead you generate had a person attached to it, with a role to play in that business, motivations, stressors and other factors that affect their purchase decisions. Many businesses feel their products and services sell themselves on their own virtue – and in some cases this is true – but all lead nurturing strategies benefit from relationship building.
What we mean by relationship building in this context is the process of building a personal rapport, mutual trust, and reciprocal understanding with your prospects.
- In the short term, this makes closing a sale more likely. People are more inclined to buy from people they trust and who understand their needs.
- In the long term, relationship building can help your business grow by retaining customers and increasing their lifetime value.
So relationship building isn’t just a nicety; it has a direct impact on the success of your marketing and sales strategy. For this to work, relationship building can’t be the sole preserve of your outbound sales or customer service team. Everyone in the business should have an understanding of customer relationship building and how it applies to their role.
Here are a few practical implications of relationship building for business development.
- Increased trust: A good relationship increases the innate trust between yourself and your customer. This cascades into other important areas of trust, such as confidence in your ability to deliver what you say, trust that you will keep to deadlines, and so on.
- Less hard sell: With trust established, you’ll find you don’t have to try so hard with your marketing and sales pitches. People you have relationships with will be easier to persuade, leading to lower acquisition and retention costs.
- Market insight: You can often find out more about what makes prospects tick in a 10-minute conversation then you can by spending thousands on market research. This market insight helps you understand your prospective customers better, and also lets you know what they like and dislike about the service your competitors provide. By building a relationship with your target audience you get to know their goals and difficulties – letting you market to them more effectively.
- Increased loyalty: A relationship with your customers increases brand loyalty. A customer with a good relationship is more likely to communicate with you about an issue, rather than taking their business elsewhere. Retention is extremely important because it costs less to retain or upsell an existing customer than it does to attract and convert a new one. Brand loyalty also has other important implications…
- More value from customers: Loyal customers may be more receptive to upsell strategies, allowing you to spend less time and money on internal sales. Customer value increases as the relationship strengthens. You may also find established customers coming to you with more work unprompted.
- Referrals: Happy customers frequently act as brand advocates. More often than not, this is informal. As part of a networking event, your customer may namedrop your business as a recommended provider of the service in question. You could also make formal requests for referrals, references, and testimonials. As online testimonials and case studies form such an integral part of the decision-making process these days, this can be a powerful resource when marketing your business to new customers.
The art of building relationships is the key to turning strangers into leads, then customers, and – eventually – committed fans! Both leads and customers need ongoing nurturing to unlock their true value. To find out more about relationship building and lead nurturing, and how this fits in with your marketing strategy, give us a call today for an informal chat.
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