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In this economy, do you feel like you have to be in 1000 different places at once? If a customer or prospective customer has an opportunity, you want to be there, always staying close. But never too close. I know the feeling.
The good news is, being out of sight no longer means you have to be out of mind.
With today’s networking tools and social media options, it is easier than ever to stay connected to customer relationships.
That’s important, because a well-maintained positive relationship can decide whether a current customer stays or goes elsewhere.
Relationships can also be the reason a potential prospect selects a new partner.
I feel like we are passionate about helping our customers (and others) and I want to stay closely connected to them, but I want to do it in ways that are most effective. Here is what has worked for me:
● I try to figure out how many times a customer wishes to receive contact from me. Once a week, once a month, once a quarter?
● I determine what time of the day and week they prefer to receive contact. I’ve found some people like to receive non-urgent communication over the weekend, so they can look at it first thing Monday morning before diving into the work week.
● I use different forms of communication, mixing up emails with phone calls and personal letters.
● I send articles that pertain to the interests of a particular customer.
● Most important, I try to help the customer become more successful by connecting them with opportunities and projects.
I do all this because I genuinely like our customers. We try to work with customers who are, first of all, decent individuals who stand for the same character issues in life that we stand for and who represent quality organizations.
To me, if you help others first, all other things being equal, then something good will come back to you.
Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email
August 11, 2010 in Customer Relationships, Technology | Tags: blog, business, Chris Brogan, connect, connectivity, construction industry, direct mail, email newsletter, Green Building Focus, opportunities, relationships, transparency, Twitter | 2 comments
When I met with a commercial real estate professional this week, we opened our conversation with the standard “Well, how is your business?” He said his problem is missing opportunities between connects. The rule in their company is to make contact with their prospects every 6 months. The problem? If a prospect has an opportunity in the interim, he is likely to do business with the last broker he hears from. The business is lost.
Blog. Twice a week, we post to this blog. Sometimes it’s specific to the construction industry. Sometimes we talk about more general leadership items. We always aim to be a trustworthy source.
Twitter. Daily, we share our blog posts and a few relevant articles I run across. What we like most is the open forum for conversations. We’ve met some great new contacts.
Direct mail. Every other month, we feature a project or a core value. We combine that with cool photography and a short but powerful message and deliver a unique piece via snail mail.
Email newsletter. Once a month, I send out an email featuring our latest blog posts and a few words about the industry from my point of view.
We perform all this in a non-intrusive manner, sharing what we are thinking but without asking that the phone be picked up. It’s mixed in with face-to-face visits, lunches, dinners and phone calls, but our outreach helps us leverage our time effectively.
In a couple of weeks, Stewart Perry is bringing Chris Brogan to Birmingham for the annual Green Building Focus, a tremendous event. How did I learn about Chris? Through his blog posts, which I receive every morning. Although I have never met Chris, I feel like I know him. My hope is that our relationships feel the same way about us through our posts. What you see is what you get. Transparency is the goal.
This new connectivity strategy can be overwhelming. I compare it to standing on the beach and watching the waves come in, not knowing which wave to ride. When you start, wade in slowly and seek advice from those who are already in the water. If you are interested in learning more, I’d go over and visit our friends at Holland + Holland. Stephanie, Brittiny, and Sara Beth are good and will be glad to lend a listening ear.
How are you staying connected to maximize your opportunities?