Step 5: Relationship Development

Step 5: Relationship development

Estimated reading time: 3 min

This fifth step is where the hard work, diligence and persistence pay off in your search for success in new business development.

People buy from people they know, like and trust and so having an active relationship with prospects who remember your name when they want to and can get in touch with you easily when they want to is very important.

How memorable is your business?

People are forgetful. What are the ways that prospects use to remember your business?

I know people save the newsletters that I mail out. I find people write replies to Newsletters that I sent months ago and the reason is that they keep them “just in case” they need to get in touch again. Many businesses do not use a business database and this is a shortcoming.

There are many ways to stay in touch with people and it’s beneficial, as your mailing list grows, for you to have some that are semi-automated and do not require a lot of your time in order to fulfil.

Good examples of these are autoresponders and newsletters. We also use social media as a way of staying in front of people we have a set-and-forget process of feeding RSS feeds through to our social media profiles so that we can appear to stay ahead of the news and on top of new developments even though we are not actually watching social media every hour of the day!

Staying memorable

Every business owner should have some form of regular networking in their diary. This could be as simple as a trade professional membership group, your chamber of commerce, or some specialist group for your area of expertise. Meeting people regularly is a very good way of staying front of mind. But beware, these people must be your prospects, not your competitors!

One way to find out if you are doing well in your relationship development is to track the number of new people we put into the business database. I collect business cards from as many people as I can who I think maybe of potential future interest to the business. This includes suppliers as well as prospective clients.

How and where do you get business cards? And what do you do with them?

It is important to have a careful plan to stay in touch with new people you meet. Some of them you want to spend time with and have a slowly developing individual relationship, others you can use mass communication. When planning your marketing, you need to think through these processes and organise all the communications necessary.

I have two special face-to-face relationship development techniques which I use. One is my circle of influence. The other is unhurried conversations.

A circle of influence is a small group of people who regularly feed new work through to us. These are people in parallel businesses whose services precede ours in the business service cycle. I meet with them on a quarterly basis or speak to them on the phone and they send us new enquiries and we are also able to reciprocate work back to them.

Unhurried conversations work on a slightly different format. It is a social event in the evening where I gather a group of interesting people around our board table for some afterwork drinks and nibbles. We use a format whereby only one person may speak any time. This forces everyone to listen carefully to what is being said. There is no agenda. The conversation takes whatever direction it wants to go. Learn more about the unhurried conversations format at this website. It is interesting that in this busy age of connected people and individuals so many people value a slower pace of talk, chat and interaction. Working at the slower pace allows my guests to take their time in thinking and considering whether they might work with us.

In summary – formalise all methods of building relationships between the business staff and prospective customers.

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