If there’s one thing I’ve learned about running a business it’s that I can’t do it alone. The “solo” business owner is just that–a solo owner. But the reality is that businesses don’t exist without other people–customers, vendors, partners, investors… Keep this first and foremost in mind and you exponentially raise the probability of success for your business.
Simple. Because no one likes doing business with people they don’t trust. It’s why we shun cold calls. It’s why we first go to family, friends, and trusted review sites for recommendations.
Getting people to know, like, and trust you is essential to your small business success—and maybe even life in general!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out looking for my next “BFF.” But whether I’m with a prospect, current customer, or vendor, my focus is on building a strong relationship. Because this is the key ingredient to growing and prospering as a solo or small business owner.
There are many benefits to having strong relationships in your business. Yes, your customers will be more loyal. They’ll give you repeat business and can be your own personal evangelists–think word-of-mouth.
And loyal customers tend to be less price conscious. That is, they’re more likely to pay a slightly higher price to do business with you than with an unknown competitor.
But having strong relationships also means you know your customers better. This will allow you to create more effective marketing content. Or, maybe you’ll discover a new service or product they need. The better you know them, the better you can serve them and help them get what they need and want.
“You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
On Building a Strong Relationship
First, drop the sales pitch. Instead, become genuinely interested in helping the other person. As Dale Carnegie wrote in his popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.”
To help keep myself in the right frame of mind when talking with people, I tell myself, They need my help and it’s my responsibility to find out how I can help them.
This mindset keeps the focus on asking good questions and listening intently. Not only does this help in learning more about the customer and her needs, but it also makes her feel important. Because she is!
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Keep On Keeping On
Apply this mindset of serving and helping to everyone you meet. And give yourself plenty of opportunities. That is, as much as possible, reach out to your customers and vendors. Call them on the phone. Email them. Send them a postcard. Visit them in person if you can.
Whether it’s a new product or service you’re offering, or a helpful tip, contact them about it. Regularly come up with new ways to bring them value and share it with them.
And always be looking to build new relationships. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Attend community events. Meetup.com is your friend! And there are plenty of relevant conferences, seminars, and trade shows you can attend. Of course, let’s not forget Facebook and other online forums.
You may have heard the popular sales expression A-B-C: Always Be Closing. Well, for solo or small business owners, I think it should be A-B-B: Always Be Building. Build strong relationships. Reach out and help people. Get them to know, like, and trust you. This is how you increase word-of-mouth and repeat business. This is the essence of the loyal customer. And who knows, you might even find a BFF.
What do you think? Do you have a story of how one strong relationship has grown your business? Share in the comments. And click on one of the share buttons below because you’re awesome! 🙂
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