Last month, we talked about the power of relationship, and why here at ORMS we prioritize working with people we know and like. Some of our favorite clients are folks we’ve gotten to know personally over time, before they became our customers. This approach brings so many benefits, like the ability to develop a deep understanding of our clients’ business needs, and the cultivation of a vested interest in their success.
“But,” you may ask, “what does it take to build such deep, meaningful relationships in my business? Where do I even begin?”
First, it starts with getting to know your clients as people.
Put People Before Business
Developing a thriving business built on mutually beneficial relationships is really not that difficult. It just takes time, a little bit of effort and a commitment to focusing on your clients’ best interests.
It’s useful to think of “B2B” as “P2P.” Don’t think of your prospect as an impersonal corporation. Businesses are made up of people, with many of the same daily stresses and concerns as you and me. Take the time to understand your client’s motivations, challenges, and goals, and you will uncover natural points of connection.
Another benefit of getting to know your clients on a deeper level is that you can apply those learnings to prospecting for new customers. As you understand your clients’ needs and pain points better, you’ll naturally be able to both solve for those needs and communicate your value proposition to the wider market more effectively.
Take the Long View
A great way to get to know potential clients on a personal level is by getting involved in industry organizations. For example, I’ve been involved in the Environmental Bankers Association (EBA) for many years and served a three year term as an Affiliate Member of the organization’s Board of Governors. I truly enjoyed my time on the Board and found the experience to be invaluable in terms of establishing deep, meaningful relationships with colleagues across the industry.
Many bankers also find it beneficial to join local organizations as a way to get to know prospective borrowers on a more intimate level. Consider joining your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation with membership consisting of more than 3 million businesses. Or look to service clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions, and non-profit boards as easy ways to both serve your community and expand your network. But don’t just hover in the background – seek out ways to add tangible value through your expertise and experience.
Above all, commit to nurturing your new-found relationships over the long haul. Don’t disappear into the background if you don’t immediately get the deal – keep in touch, offer guidance and advice when needed, and be friendly and authentic. You’ll be surprised at how often these folks will seek you out the next time they have a business need. Stay in contact, stay the course, and you will always stay top of mind.