Conversation Is King

According to Paul May, CEO of BuzzStream, if you ‘build the right relationships with the right people, and nurture them over time, you will always have a leg up on the competition’.

I believe that Paul is right! The secret to a thriving business is people, whether those people be employees, suppliers, contacts or, most importantly, customers. Taking the time to build relationships in all these areas will not just improve your likeability but will also build trust, create brand loyalty and create a favourable image of your business amongst the people who are most important to you.

But strong and meaningful relationships don’t just happen over-night! Think of your own life and the people closest to you – maybe a spouse/ partner, a friend, a colleague that you’re close to… It’s highly unlikely that the relationship you have today was instantaneous – yes, I’m an old romantic too and like the notion of love at first sight, but even so, the relationship is not formed in that moment. Instead, you likely spent time together, you got to know what each other liked and didn’t like, you got to know the finer details of each other’s lives like what they worked at, who their family are, what they enjoy doing in their spare time. You bugged each other and enjoyed each other’s company, perhaps simultaneously! You found a relationship that you are mutually comfortable with, so that now your relationship is relaxed, you have lots to talk about, you help each other out. You trust each other, and chances are if one of you messes up, you’re likely to forgive them once they make it right. Building customer relationships is every bit as important as building these personal relationships if you want to grow your business in a meaningful way – a way that grows your profit while also meeting the needs of your customers.

Thankfully the advent of technology and digital platforms have helped with building these relationships and some businesses use it really well, indeed some businesses rely almost wholly on digital media for the business. However, for many, the art of success still lies in building person to person, face to face relationships. While texts, emails, social media news etc can all be used to prop up relationships, the key for these businesses is conversation. It is people who will make, buy, deliver, sell and consume your products and services so starting conversations that keep going is a must. Relationship building is a slow burner but investing in conversations that build deep relationships both inside and outside your organisation will lead to a healthier business all round.

Here are some tips for keeping that conversation going:

  • Start with what you know – It’s easier to build relationships with people you already know so make a list of all the people you would like to have a deeper relationship with. Once you’ve done that find out where they hang out and get yourself in front of them.

 

  • Don’t sell - If the primary aim for starting a conversation is to get a sale imminently then you really aren’t all that interested in the relationship. Building relationships through conversation takes time. The conversation should focus on the other person, learning about them and finding ways you can help them – something as simple as sharing a social media trick or sign posting them to someone who can help them with a problem.

 

  • Commit to it – Block book some time in your diary for relationship building every week – it could be coffee with a supplier, a ‘how are you?’ phone call with a customer, an informal chat over lunch with your staff. Whatever it is, make sure it happens each and every time.

 

  • Create the journey – I’m always amazed how many businesses have never developed a customer journey – it doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate, just a drawing on the wall highlighting the customer’s journey from Awareness to Interest to Desire and Action. At each stage of the journey jot down the ways you can build relationships or have better conversations – When do you need to go to a trade show and mingle? When do you need a one to one meeting? When is a phone call ok? Where can technology help? And don’t forget to include what happens after the action has taken place – you do after all want them to take action again and again. And never forget to do something for them during the conversation even if it is just making them feel good about themselves by congratulating them on a recent achievement or thanking them for sending a customer your way.

Just remember that a conversation isn’t a one-time event. It will take time, effort, creativity and dedication to build relationships this way, but it will pay dividends in the quality of the relationship, your business image, brand loyalty and trust in your business.

 

Claire O'Hanlon

 

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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