In answer to our first question ‘in 2018, do we as small business owners have time to build relationships?’, one of our members responded, with a plain and simple ‘YES!’ – no matter what happens with technology and the internet – it’ll always be vital to build relationships with customers.
One of our members described how important it is to build relationships with the key decision makers within your customers organisation. This was proved when the marketing manager for a vary large national company left the members client, and effectively ‘took’ the members business with them (a marketing/signage company). This meant they kept the old client, and gained a new one also based on the relationship they had with that individual within the organisation.
We established early on that it is obviously very important to create those relationships with customers, but one member highlighted that technology, Social Media etc. can make the job a lot easier these days, and can also allow relationships to be established where they could not have done before.
One of or members who is an accountant described the top reason they take clients from other accountants is due to a poor relationship in some form; whether it be lack of communication, not ‘clicking’, or simply not knowing who their point of contact is.
One of our members joked that there is such thing as ‘too much relationship’ and if not careful, it could be felt a business is pestering their customers. A good balance of feeling loved, but not stalked, is needed!
One attendee explained how he worked for a multi-national company as a purchasing manager. Even at that level he said that choosing a supplier was still largely dependent on the quality of the relationship he had with the supplier and whether he felt he could work with the supplier day to day.
While it’s important to build strong relationships with key contacts it can also be worth building secondary relationships. One of our members explained how they had been working for a large company and had a great relationship with the key contact. However, that contact had them changed jobs and as they had no secondary contact to fall back on, they lost the client.
One of our members runs a dance school and has members of staff (dance teachers) that go into schools to teach classes. She mentioned how she focuses on making sure that each of her members of staff work hard to build strong relationships with the schools they’re working in to strengthen the company’s bond with their clients.
We discussed whether relationship building can be leveraged or whether it still requires effort one to one. It was mentioned that things like videos and podcasts can be great ways to build relationships as the audience can form a real bond with the person presenting the material and give a real head start should a meeting ever occur.