In the business world, your relationships are one of the most important assets for you to cultivate. How you engage with potential clients is fundamental to your ability to develop fruitful interactions with them. But these interactions can also be a tremendous source of information that can help you improve the overall quality of your business offerings.
Your marketing efforts originate in the nexus between clear brand messaging and the building of these business relationships. Some might even say that your relationships ARE your brand. At the very least, understanding the interplay between the two is key to the success of any business. Let’s have a look at how these two things support and inform one another.
Here’s a familiar scenario: You meet someone at a networking event, strike up a conversation and develop the beginnings of a congenial relationship. In talking, you realize that there’s a potential for doing business with one another, and you agree to send your new acquaintance some more information about your products and services. It’s important to be able to support a business relationship with good documentation, so what you provide in your follow-up is going to be key.
After the Networking, Wow Them With Something Original
When in the initial stages of forming a good business relationship, it’s important that whatever documentation you send be quality, original material. You want to make sure that it represents you well, in a way that demonstrates your uniqueness in the marketplace. To really make a strong statement, instead of or in addition to a brochure, you can send a short, 30-second video. Depending on your product, perhaps you include a small sample.
There are other materials you may also want to prepare, such as documentation of your success rate. Depending on the nature of your business, this may come in the form of statistical information, testimonials, or a combination of both. Again, whether you quantify your success in terms of qualitative analysis or through anecdotal evidence, the important thing is that it has the impact of inspiring confidence in your ability to deliver.
In terms of statistical information, you may find that there is a difference as to the kind of numbers that you deem important and the numbers that a potential client is seeking. We all quantify success in different terms, based on the kind of work we are doing and the specific focus of our brand. If you are a B2C based company, your success may be counted in thousands, but if you are a B2B company, five leads may be considered a great outcome, potentially worth millions of dollars. Again, being able to quantify results is equally important as being able to share quality anecdotal and qualitative analysis.
Your Client Interactions Can Teach You So Much
Feedback from potential clients in this regard is going to be very important to you in a few ways. The first is, of course, related to whether or not you will be a good fit for working together. If you are speaking in the same terms about how you evaluate your ability to deliver what they need, and the client is impressed with your results, then you are off and running. If for some reason they are not satisfied with your track record, then perhaps they need you to offer a different type of documentation. If, however, you give them everything you’ve got and it’s still not enough, then they are looking for someone else. It’s important to recognize that not every potential client is a good fit. Better to know this up front and move on than to make the mistake of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. The results will not be good for either of you.
Understanding and accepting that a client is not a good fit for you is only one part of what you should take away from an experience like this. The other half goes back to using the feedback you get from potential clients to help you improve your overall offerings as well as the way you present them.
If you are consistently being asked to provide certain pieces of data that you don’t presently offer, then it may be time to update your data collection processes with regard to your existing clients. The key thing here is that any changes you make be in support of your overall branding goals, and not just an attempt to please others in a way that makes you lose your center. In this same vein, you may, in fact, discover from these types of interactions that there is a market for a new service or product that you could begin to offer as a very natural part of a logical business expansion.
You May Learn Even More Than You Expect!
Another thing you may discover is that you are looking for the wrong types of clients. If you are consistently being turned down by prospective clients, then perhaps it’s time for you to revisit the client personas you have developed. The success of your marketing and sales efforts is grounded on a firm understanding of who you are talking to when trying to pitch your business. This, in turn, informs your branding choices and all of your networking activity. Knowing you are talking to the right people is the first step in developing a strong client base, so take some time to revisit this evaluative, investigative process.
As in any good relationship, communication with clients should be dynamic and open. Always be ready to learn and adapt to things you are hearing, whether your conversation is with an existing client or a new prospect. If you are truly interested in creating a successful business, then it’s important to be responsive to new information, and be willing to learn and implement changes as necessary. Relationship building is an art, not a science, and this very personalized process may be one of your best and most reliable tools for professional development.