In business, relationship marketing is a process within the sphere of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The focus is long-term, including customer acquisition; development, service, and maintenance. Sustaining these activities can be quite an undertaking, especially for start-ups and small firms. However, having an attitude of serving the customer and helping solve problems is paramount to achieving desired outcomes, regardless of your company size.
Helping customers meet their goals, short-term, and long-term invariably helps you as well. For example, an improved bottom line leads to enormous appreciation and respect which in turn leads to referrals, and you as the hero.
In actuality, it’s a nurturing undertaking, using various approaches and methodologies. The recommendations listed are a good start and can be included in your firm’s current marketing efforts.
- Show empathy for customer concerns
- Listen carefully to requests
- Be on time for appointments
- Do not interrupt during conversations
- If you can’t answer a question, say “I will find the answer for you.”
- Promote your company’s strengths “We have a strong supply chain.”
- Offer to train employees in using your new software and devices
- Be in contact weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly
Further, consider giving your contact an industry-specific free newsletter or magazine subscription. It’s free, but in the customer’s mind, it’s the thought that counts and the periodical, online or paper, may turn out as a valuable resource.
Oh yes, remember the business lunch, cultivating relationships calls for occasionally breaking bread with the customer. As the host, arrive at the restaurant first and offer a firm but not a hard handshake. Ask the maître’d for a table located in a relatively quiet area. Please remember, everything you do and say, contributes to building stable customer relationships.
Another suggestion, send photographs and articles to the client company social media page. Social platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter are great for a client’s image enhancement as well as your own. Attending seminars, webinars, and specialty courses will provide new and updated techniques to improve your ability to build robust, long-lasting business relationships.
On another note, if the client company changes Purchasing Manager, for example, don’t think of having to start over. Think of the change as an opportunity to do even higher things for them. You’ve already laid the groundwork, now build on it, and improve it.
Relationship marketing is hard work, long hours, requires inventiveness and creative ideas. In this regard, please consider this quotation:
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
By Michael W. Robinson