I once visited an old friend who I hadn’t seen for a number of years. Since our last meeting he had retired and moved to a rural property with a huge plot of land at the back.
As I wandered around the old Victorian pad, he revealed that gardening had become his obsession and he now spent every available hour tending his vegetable plot and making sure borders and flower beds were weed free and a riot of colour.
It wasn’t rocket science, he explained. The secret of a happy, healthy garden was simply devoting time, effort and enthusiasm to the job. Forget your garden, he once told me, and your garden will forget you.
All this reminded me that business clients are like plants. You have to keep watering them if you want to see them grow. Good relationships are based on strong communication, regular contact and having a mutual understanding of each other’s needs. In short, keeping in touch.
Ignore this simple strategy and most clients will feel neglected, assume you are no longer interested in them and take their business elsewhere.
But how do you maintain open lines of communication without bombarding them and becoming a pest? After all, in the minds of some people, there is a very fine line between a genuine enquiry and a nuisance call.
Actually, it’s really not that difficult. So here are a few tips to help you enjoy a healthy business to business relationship without the need to hassle the very people you rely on for your growth.
Create a Database
Create a spreadsheet detailing all of your existing clients. Include all relevant information, including any personal stuff you may be aware of, like marital status, hobbies etc. This will help build empathy when you decide to get in touch.
The Two-Week Rule
As a rule of thumb, most marketers maintain that contacting a
customer once every two weeks is about right. This will help
ensure that your clients never get the chance to forget who you are, or slip away unnoticed.
Arrange Regular Meetings
Nothing beats face-to-face communication, so arrange regular meetings with clients to build on the relationships you have forged.
Create a Blog
This is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. Blog regularly and then share your articles via newsletters, emails or social networking.
Launch a Newsletter
Printed or electronic newsletters show you’re serious about your business and the type of people you do business with. You can share news, campaigns, offers – and even fun stuff – using this format with existing clients and, of course, new prospects.
All businesses now understand the benefits of using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build their brand and increase customer loyalty. Try to post at least once a day with news, updates, announcements, testimonials and anything else you think may be of interest. Encourage clients to ‘like’ your page and assign at least one of your employees the responsibility of monitoring your social networking pages and responding promptly to any messages that may be sent to you.
Staying in contact with business customers is a vital part of your sales strategy. With preparation and planning it should become as natural as keeping in touch with family and friends – or even tending your garden!
Admittedly, not everyone can enjoy a beautifully manicured plot, like my friend’s. But we can all sow the seeds of our success by developing a more direct and personal contact with clients.
Without it, the fruits of your labours will soon simply wither on the vine.