Nurture Genuine Relationships
The first impressions you make and the initial meeting you have with a potential or new client are critically important, but they have simply opened the door to a possible enduring relationship. Great care and attention must now be taken at every step to nurture this new relationship.
All relationships that endure for the long term have one thing in common: they are mutually beneficial and each party is rewarded for their participation in it. Financial rewards obviously play a role in most business relationships, but the most meaningful and enduring relationships tend to give each participant a deeper sense of purpose, connection and contribution to the wider world than that which results from mere financial exchange.
At the start of each new relationship, consider what bigger purpose the other party may be seeking. What results, achievements or contributions could you help them attain to give them the greatest possible reward from their relationship with you? What rewards do you seek from this relationship? Dollars will obviously be on the list, but what else are you “in” this for?
In an enduring relationship, those core motivating factors tend to be in harmony between the parties, and the balanced give and take that results means everyone works together toward the same objectives.
So how can you ensure that you are proceeding with each new relationship in just the right way to give it the best possible shot at being an enduring relationship?
In the early months and years, frequent, regular contact is absolutely essential to consolidate all those insights you gained about the person in your first discussions and continue to build on the trust they have begun to show in you. Although many people believe they will automatically keep in touch with all of their new contacts, the reality is that most will not. In fact, 48% of sales professionals fail to make contact with new prospects beyond the first contact. And 73% of them fail to progress beyond the second contact. Think of all those potential relationships that evaporated before they even had a chance to begin!
To ensure that you capitalise on your investments in making a good first impression and creating instant rapport, build a system around how often you will reach out and meet all the people in your new budding relationships. Diarise those touchpoints and follow through with them. After each contact, let the person know when they will be hearing from you again and critically, follow through with each of those promises.
Especially in the early stages of your new relationships, doing what you say you will do is the most important way to demonstrate the honesty and integrity that you will be bringing to this relationship from the very beginning. If you can’t manage to contact them every month like you said you would, what confidence will they have in your ability to perform a higher-level task for them when more is at stake for both of you?
As often as possible, give them useful information or tips with no expectation of a return in order to reveal your genuine care and interest in their success and wellbeing. Act with integrity at all times and take every opportunity to demonstrate your business, personal and community-focused values at work.
And when is it OK to start “selling”? Given that 80% of sales are made after 5-12 contact points, refrain from trying to push any particular agenda at any of those first few meetings. Instead, continue giving away information that will boost your value in your clients’ eyes and allow them to invite you to help address their specific needs. The sales will then begin to flow naturally.