Building relationships take time. Over a period of weeks and months, often years, people build trust and mutual respect. They enjoy each others company, find value in conversations, and share similar values. Sometimes this leads to marriage! The same hold true in business.
Let’s focus on the business environment, more specifically the sales arena you work in. Before going there I want to set some context with a short story.
The other day I overheard my wife complimenting my oldest son for calling his grandparents after receiving a birthday card from them. She heard about his call from her mother. Taylor was away at university; the call was on his nickel, and during exam week when he had lots on his mind. It was a nice thing to do for sure, but he didn’t realize the huge impact it had on his grandparents. It sent a strong message that he was thoughtful and appreciative. It only took a few minutes; however the impression it left will be long lasting. Carla went on to say “it’s the little things in life that count” and continued “I’m proud of you Bud, you have no idea how much your call meant to Omi and Opa.”
In the business world we are busy putting out fires, building prospect lists, networking, presenting proposals, and booking the business. Driving revenue is the constant pressure.
Most sales people find no shortage of things to keep them busy day to day. How much time is actually devoted to strengthening relationships with your customers?
My guess is every sales manager has suggested you send a birthday card to your clients, but do you? It’s a great idea, and guess what, your clients will love you for it, especially if you follow it up with a “non-business” phone call.
The “experts” will tell you a non-business contact with your clients is huge in building relationships. They also suggest sending a card or note two or three times a year is best, four times is too many. If you are like me, you only have one birthday a year so what other times might be appropriate? It could be around a special holiday, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukah. The trick is to personalize the birthday card, “Happy Birthday on the 10th Shelley.” Whereas on the holiday greeting you want to make it about you (not the client), keeping the note personal. The other challenge is how do you find a suitable card that doesn’t scream Hallmark, which is suitable for a business relationship?
At the risk of turning this post into an advertisement I discovered a website only today that can help you manage this process so it gets done. I think they have capitalized on a terrific niche to make the sales reps life easier. Frank Grisdale, an investment advisor for many years saw the opportunity and created Long Term Clients.com, The Greeting Card System For Retention, Referrals and Revenue. I was impressed with their product, service and testimonials.
If you are in the business of building and strengthening relationships, appreciate the importance of doing the little things right. Let your customers know you care about them, you remember things important to them (even if you rely on your CRM system), and that you are much more than “just about business.”
Let me ask, have you had success sending birthday cards?