Take a moment to consider the clients you most enjoy working with.
Do they represent the largest relationships at your institution? Do they carry the biggest deposit balances? Do they hold the most commercial real estate loans? Has their family been with your institution for generations?
But I’m willing to bet your favorite clients aren’t necessarily the largest, longest tenured, or highest-profile relationships. It’s more likely they are the people who are most appreciative of the job you do for them, and whose company you enjoy the most. You seem to be “on the same page” most of the time. And they certainly don’t try to nickel and dime you over every transaction.
In many cases, these relationships started out small, maybe with a consumer account or loan, or began when you met someone through your community network with whom you established a connection.
What makes these clients so special? I think of it as the power of relationship.
At ORMS, some of our favorite clients are those we’ve gotten to know over time, before they were our customers. We have gotten comfortable with each other on a personal level, and developed trust and rapport before entering into a business relationship.
The research backs up the idea that relationship building is an approach that gets results. According to Leap Job, only 2% of cold calls result in a sales appointment. Meanwhile, nurtured leads end up making 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
Why does relationship building produce big benefits? Simply put, people like doing business with people they know and trust.
Relationship is the Gift That Keeps Giving
At ORMS, we have designed our business model around the power of relationship. In fact, this is the “Secret Sauce” behind our growth and long-term success.
Of course, rapid growth comes burdened with its own challenges, particularly for a small firm like ours. Despite the pandemic (or perhaps due to it) we have experienced massive growth over the past 18 months. This means our team has been burning the candle at both ends to serve the needs of our new clients as well as those of our long-time customers. But one benefit of developing strong client relationships over the course of many years is that there is a level of understanding and forgiveness that wouldn’t be present if it was a purely transactional relationship. Sometimes during these crazy, busy times, not everything goes perfectly according to plan. But our customers understand and are willing to work with us and give us a little bit of leeway, when needed.
The relationship approach allows for a work program to evolve organically, instead of being forced. It is less likely to begin under a cloud of urgency and high-stress circumstances. By getting to know our client over a number of years, we can begin with a small engagement and let it build over time. We can learn their philosophy, personalities, work styles, goals, and preferences. The benefit to our customers is a high level of problem solving built upon our deep expertise combined with our knowledge and understanding of their organization’s needs.
Ultimately, this means we get to do business with fair, likeminded people who we truly enjoy working with. It also means that we become fully invested in our clients’ positive outcomes, which is reflected in our consistently outstanding, personal service.
Another big benefit of the relationship approach is … referrals! Over time, our focus on providing outstanding, personal service and cultivating relationships for the long haul means that our customers often turn into raving fans, and are eager to refer us to to other, likeminded people in the business. The relationship – referral pipeline is a big key to our success and growth.
Lastly, by getting to know people before they are clients means that the initial trial run frequently turns into high-value, long term relationships. For the client, we are already “pre-vetted,” there are fewer surprises, and both parties enter the initial business relationship with a greater chance of success. Moreover, the relationship is far less likely to be transactional in nature, and we are both more focused on the big picture. Our clients understand the value we bring to the table, and we have a better understanding of their needs and priorities. It’s a win-win!
Next month, we’ll do a deeper dive into how you can begin building your business on the power of relationships. Stay tuned!