People buy from people they know and trust. Until a rapport is established, most folks will simply keep their wallets shut. That’s where relational marketing, creating a relationship between the customer and the salesperson or business, comes in.
Companies are catching on to the idea of relational marketing through social networking. Consider this: Facebook didn’t exist 10 years ago and as of June 2013, they now have 1.15 Billion active users (http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts). If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest by population only behind China and India.
With all the talk and hype about social marketing and selling, you need to keep these timeless truths at the very forefront of your thought process in order to be successful in establishing trust.
Be honest and genuine
People are good at spotting phonies and as fast as information circulates these days, honesty is still the best policy. I had a salesman who was habitually late and I kept a log of his excuses for being late. To my amazement, lightning struck the power pole outside of his house three times in a three week period causing him to oversleep. Additionally, his truck broke down five times over two months on the way to work (he had a newer truck too). Maybe he was really unlucky but I didn’t trust him and eventually I severed ties.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Take an interest in your client or potential client’s life/business and look for ways to help them succeed. Zig Ziglar said it best, “If you help enough people get what they want, then you will eventually get what you want.” This may not result in an immediate sale, but when that person has a need they will likely turn to you. You want to establish yourself as a credible and dependable business partner and friend.
Be a sounding board
The term “informational marketing” was presented to me a few years back by Tony Robbins. Up until that time, I was actually practicing this concept but just didn’t know what to call it (watch for more details and ideas in the next article on informational marketing). Simply said, you want to be the expert in your industry and the best way to build this reputation is through sharing information.
Perhaps, you learn of a bid for landscaping and you pass it along to one of your good commercial customers. Another best practice is sharing information at the parts counter about how to install the part correctly or actually making suggestions such as purchasing an oil filter with the oil, or a spark plug with an air filter. Regardless of your approach, sharing information will help to establish you as the expert and help you have the first opportunity at that customer’s business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’ve got regular customers that love you, then ask them for help in growing your business. Referrals and testimonials are powerful and help establish trust with future clients. One of my favorite questions to a regular customer goes like this, “Hey Joe, do you know of anyone that could use our services or products?” Not only do you gather valuable leads, but you also grow your relationship with your existing customer by subconsciously saying you value their opinion.
Don’t forget to say thank you
In this fast-paced society, we often forget the basic need for people to feel appreciated. The fundamental courtesy of saying “Thank you” goes a long way with your clients, family and friends. With so many choices and customers harder to find, is the lack of a simple “thank you” worth losing business?