Saturday, December 15, 2007

Relationships are the Key to Jazzing Up Your Sales

Last week I attended my friend Greg’s 60th birthday party. Greg is a successful business owner and investor who recently beat lung cancer. During the toasts at the party many people mentioned how they had known Greg for the last 15 or 20 years and how wonderful their friendships have been. Many of Greg's closest friends were people he does business with and who do business with him.

This reminded me of the best way to jazz up the sales of your business: relationships. It's cliche' but true - "people do business with people" and "people buy from people they like."

Here are some quick tips for how to build relationships with your customers:

  1. Find out about them. Ask questions like,
    "Do you have big plans for the holidays?"
    "Do you have a lot of family in town?"
    "Seen the new Star Wars movie yet?"
    "How old are your kids?"
    Learning about your client gives you conversation starters for your meetings with them.

  2. Socialize outside of work. If you find out you and your customer have a similar interest like hunting or fishing, plan a trip together. If your spouses have never met, invite your client and spouse out to dinner.

  3. Use the mail. If socializing outside of work feels too much like schmoozing to you there are other avenues for building relationships. Read an article in the newspaper that made you think of your client? Cut it out and mail it to him with a quick handwritten note.

  4. Give event tickets. A good way to socialize with your customer is to invite him to a sporting event. If this makes you uncomfortable consider giving your clients tickets to a local baseball or basketball game. You might say, "Hi Jim, I have 4 tickets to the Mavericks game tomorrow night and wanted to know if you'd like to have them?"

  5. Stay in touch. Send your clients birthday cards or Happy 4th of July cards to stay in touch throughout the year. Email or call them occasionally to check in. Keep the emails or phone calls short and sweet. Be creative in thinking up "excuses" to contact your customers.

  6. Know their business. You don't have to be an expert, but make it a point to understand a little about your customer's business. For example, if you own a cleaning company, make it a point to understand the cycles of your customer's business to know when will be the best and most convenient times for your cleaning crews to work - after hours, after the Friday night rush, before or after a big event, etc.