The fantasy: You meet someone once, tell them about your business, and they sign the contract. The reality: You need to build relationships with people before they’ll spend their precious budgets with you.
And if you want to efficiently move people from stranger to customer to raving fan of your business, you’ll need more than a relationship — you’ll need a road map.
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In this post, I’ll share:
- Relationship dynamics
- What a lot of businesses do… wrong!
- Secret benefits of slowing down business relationships
- The road map – the essential steps for taking someone from unknown to customer (and beyond!)
Ready to learn about profitable relationships?
Let’s jump in.
Building relationships in business is similar to building romantic relationships. Both parties (typically) expect a certain progression and layering of commitments. I.e.,
- getting to know each other
- the first date
- more dates
- getting intimate
- meeting friends
- meeting the parents
- moving in together
- buying a house together
- getting married
- starting a family
Sure, you can try to skip some of these steps, or do them in a different order. But if you do, the relationship might be short-lived and cause more harm than good.
Imagine you’re on a first date. How comfortable would you be if your date asked you to get married? Or start a family?
The relationship would be over faster than you could say “bill, please!”
Creating lasting relationships
So, if you like someone and want the relationship to grow and last, you need to be mindful of…
- the speed that you try to develop the relationship
- the timing of commitments
- how hard you push for what you want
What a lot of businesses do… wrong!
Unfortunately, many businesses attempt to push people straight from first date to marriage. They totally disregard or don’t understand the need to build relationships before they try to close the deal.
Naturally, their results are disappointing.
- Only a few people say yes to marriage (signing a contract) on the first date.
- The majority of prospects and leads run for the hills!
There is a better way…
How to get more people running towards our businesses
If we want to attract (rather than repel) more prospects and leads, we need to slow things down. We need to be mindful and carefully nurture long-term relationships.
The more we put into building these long-term relationships, the more we get out of them – more contracts signed, more customer LTV (life-time-value), more referrals.
And let’s not forget the…
Secret benefits of slowing down business relationships
Of course, winning more deals and clients is what we all want. But, there are other good reasons for taking your foot off the relationship accelerator.
- Ability to find better matches for your service
- More time to spend with the right people
- Time to better explain and positively differentiate your business
- Ability to listen, learn, and better solve the leads problems
- Improved credibility and positioning
#1 – Better matches / qualified leads
When we slow things down, we have the opportunity to learn more about prospects (and them about us). It gives us a chance to properly evaluate whether we’re a good fit before they do any serious business with us.
This helps us to:
- Disqualify unsuitable candidates early in the process (even before the sales team talk to them)
- Avoid accidentally selling to the wrong people (and creating negative word of mouth)
#2 – More time spent with the right people (not time wasters)
Eliminating the wrong people earlier in the process also gives our sales teams more time to spend with the right people.
That’s more time wisely invested in good leads and bringing (real) deals to fruition. Less time wasted on the wrong people and fantasy deals.
#3 – Time to better explain and positively differentiate your business
When we’re not in a hurry, we can better explain and share:
- The unique qualities of our service
- How the service works
- How onboarding works
- Positive experiences and results of previous customers (social proof)
This will better prepare prospects (get them sales ready) and shorten our selling cycle — less time and meetings needed with the sales team.
Aside: Building longer relationships with people doesn’t always mean more conversations with your sales team. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. More on this later in the article.
Bonus – When people better understand the unique benefits and features of your service, they stop comparing your service against others, and price becomes less important in their buying decisions. What that means? You won’t be pushed to compete on price.
#4 – Listen, learn, and better solve the leads problems
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus
As the quote implies, your sales team should always be doing more listening than talking. Slowing things down gives your team more time to listen to the needs and requirements of potential customers.
This is a killer play, as it:
- Shows you care
- Shows you get their unique challenges
- Gives you material that will help to personalise the proposal (and win the deal)
- Helps you personalise the service and potentially upsell
- Helps you get a jump on the competition, who probably aren’t listening as well as you are
Aside: Remember, personalisation doesn’t have to cost the earth and it doesn’t have to be free to the customer either. E.g. Apple gives people the opportunity to pay to have their iPhones personalised. This hardly affects the production process and generates additional revenue.
#5 – It improves the positioning and credibility of the business
We can accept people hawking (or shouting about) their wares when they’re selling bananas down at Walthamstow Market or programmes at a football match.
But when people are being sold a professional service they have higher standards, and they expect a certain level of decorum.
Being too needy, too shouty, too in people’s faces, can make your business look desperate — and who wants to work with a desperate business?
Slowing down the process, and using a refined marketing and sales pipeline, shows that you’re not desperate and that you don’t need the prospect or lead.
Aside: A polished marketing and sales pipeline also showcases the efficiency and professionalism of your overall approach to business.
In turn, this will improve the positioning and credibility of your business. You’re there to provide qualified people with a professional high-quality result. And if service professionals, like Doctors and Dentists, don’t need to chase business, why should you?
The Customer Relationship Road Map
By now, I hope you understand the importance and value of building relationships the right way.
Well, if we want to maximise the results we get from building relationships, we need more than good ideas and good intentions. We need an actionable process — one that moves people from unknown to customer to raving fan (that’s referrals in old money).
And we don’t want some wishy-washy process.
We want a pre-planned journey that reliably takes our prospects through all the important stages in our relationship… A —> B —> C —> D—> …because having this pre-planned journey in place will greatly increase the chances of deals getting signed.
What we need is a road map, or to be precise, a Customer Relationship Road Map.
Where to begin?
Let’s start by mapping out all the important Waypoints on our customer’s journey.
Customer Relationship Waypoints
If we want to gain more customers and get maximum value out of those customers, we need to help people travel through eight specific points on the Customer Relationship Road Map.
#1 – Know
Where someone learns about the existence of your business.
#2 – Like
Someone gets to like your business. Typically, by seeing the value you bring to the table.
#3 – Trust
Where someone starts to trust your business. They are often required to invest either: a small amount of time, a token amount of money, or personal information (e.g. email address).
#4 – Commit
They commit to a minor product or service. Not your main service.
#5 – Enjoy
Where they enjoy the results of that initial commitment.
#6 – Love
They decide to jump in with both feet. They sign up for your main service and other high-value services.
#7 – Tell
Your customer is happy to tell people about the great result they’ve had with your service. E.g. testimonials.
#8 – Shout
They are inspired or incentivised to shout about and actively promote your service. Think brand ambassadors.
So, we’ve got the Waypoints that we need to move people through. Next up, how we get them there.
How do we get people to our Relationship Waypoints?
By setting and achieving Key Results that are congruent with the Relationship Waypoints.
|Key Result||Relationship Waypoint|
|Make them aware||Know|
|Engage them with value||Like|
|Ask them to trust us||Trust|
|Get them to commit to a small service||Commit|
|Deliver value they enjoy with that small service||Enjoy|
|Get them to sign up for the main service||Love|
|Ask them to tell others about their experience||Tell|
|Incentivise them to share your service||Shout|
The Key Results by themselves won’t bring our people to the waypoint.
We achieve the Key Result (and reach our Waypoints) through the deliberate and structured use of marketing tactics, sales processes, and service offerings.
Here are some examples:
|Tactic||Key Result||Relationship Waypoint|
|FB Ad||Make them aware||Know|
|Blog post||Engage them with value||Like|
|Subscribes to newsletter||Ask them to trust us||Trust|
|Buys small service||Get them to commit to a small service||Commit|
|Get value from small service||Deliver value they enjoy with that small service||Enjoy|
|Buys core offer/s||Sell them the main service||Love|
|Gives testimonials||Ask them to tell others about their experience||Tell|
|Becomes affiliate||Incentivise them to share your service||Shout|
Creating systems and processes for building great relationships
Businesses that have the right Tactics, Key Results and Waypoints in place find it easier to turn cold leads and website visitors into customers. And they also maximise the results they generate from existing customers by getting more referrals.
And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we all be focused on building great relationships with the people that matter to us?
What does your customer relationship roadmap look like?
You’ve probably already got some Waypoints in place. But you might not have them all.
And besides, there’s always room for improvement.
What would happen if you took just one of those relationship Waypoints and improved it by as little as 20%? It could make a significant positive impact on your business.
Now imagine if you make even bigger improvements on multiple Waypoints. You’ll quickly be turning strangers into customers — and customers into passionate brand advocates.
Your free relationship roadmap template
It’ll help you map out and score your business’s relationship roadmap. It’ll make it easier for you to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your customer journey.
It’ll get you started with minimal effort.
As a bonus, you’ll also get free video training which walks you through completing and scoring your Customer Relationship Road Map.
In business, relationships are everything. How are you building yours?