I’ve been in sales for over 30 years and if its one thing I’ve learned it’s the value of a strong business relationship. Having a strong business relationship can be the difference between winning or losing business. It’s that powerful. There are various steps to building a successful business relationship. This is one of my favorites.
My dad was a master at building business relationships. When I was just starting out in sales I remember being in my dad’s office, the phone would ring and he would answer one call after another. I listened to his conversations and there would be several calls where he would go to his Rolodex and give the person on the other end a name of a business. I asked him what that was all about. He looked at me, smiled, and told me that the person who called was looking for a component that we didn’t carry so he was referring him to someone else. I realized that he had made himself a knowledge base to his customers. He became known as the “go to” guy. Whenever a customer needed something, they would call him. He also made sure he had information on his customers. Things like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. He would always make sure he sent out cards to his customers to recognize those events, thank you cards for meetings, etc. I know firsthand sending out all those cards sealed his relationships. This was business relationship building 101 and he became a success with it.
I use that method to this day. If your prospects and customers see you as a knowledge base, they will come to you every time they need something. The integrity and trust you build will put you over the top with your competition. Do I still send cards with all the technology available? I do and here’s why: Sending email has become commonplace and you take a chance if your email will even be read. So, when I want to thank someone for taking the time to meet with me, thanks for the business, birthday wishes, etc – I always send a card. People enjoy receiving cards and appreciate virtual roundtables the time it took to write it out and mail it. I also find that customers will hold on to the cards and show their co-workers.
Technology offers us options: Email, webinars, cell phones, web sites, blogs, social networking, ezines and additional means to connect with customers. I use most of the above but the one thing that works best is my dad’s way of building business relationships. I’m giving something of value, a benefit, to my customers that few sales people are taking the time to do. So, if you want to place yourself above your competition become a knowledge base in your field – and send those cards.