Where do most of your sales come from? When I’ve asked this question in a weekly lunch I do with 60 business leaders, 59 of them say relationships and one didn’t understand the question.
So how do we shift more of our spend from advertising, direct marketing, and public relations to relationship marketing? The good news is that it just doesn’t cost that much money – it costs time. The bad news is that we think we can buy customers and would much rather spend money than time. Good luck with that.
It actually works if you have enough money to make a very big and sustained splash. But most business owners don’t have the kind of marketing budget that allows them the luxury of spending wads of cash and sitting back to wait for the phones to ring. Like it or not, we have more time than money, but again, the good news is that an investment of your time in building relationships will be much more effective than a quick, short-term spend of money.
The key is moving people from being “advocates” to “raving fans”. There are a lot of past and present customers along with friends and business associates who really like us a lot. But they have lives and we are not at the center of their lives. I describe an advocate as someone who likes me enough to give me a referral when I ask, but I have to ask. A Raving Fan however, is at a whole new level – this is someone who sends me customers without me asking.
The difference is one degree.
At 211 degrees we get hot water to make tea. At 212 degrees we get steam to power a civilization. We have a lot of 211 degree relationships who are really warmed up to us (Advocates), but what do we do move them that one extra degree to turn them into Raving Fans?
Here are some simple things that can turn Advocates into Raving Fans. By the way, the profound things are always the most simple.
- Serve people – meet them where they are at, not where you want them to be. You want to sell them something, but they need a babysitter or a new supplier. Find them that and forget selling them your wares.
- Set aside a few minutes a week to ask yourself what else you can do to move them forward? Do you want a client from them? Can you send them one instead? Or just call and say hi and ask them what you can do to push them forward.
- Relate/recreate with them – when was the last time you actually took time to build a relationship with an Advocate? Go to dinner, have a cup of coffee, invite them to golf, go to a workshop together. People buy from people, and they buy more from people they like. Become likeable.
Discover what your Advocates want and deliver that. If you do, they could become Raving Fans who will become gate openers for your business. What have you done for them besides deliver something they’ve paid for? Answer that question positively and you are on the way to turning your 211-degree relationships into 212 Raving Fans.
Make a list of five to ten people who love you and aren’t helping you grow your business. Then create a three month action plan help them grow theirs and watch what happens.
One degree – does it really matter? It just might take one of your 211-degree relationships and turn it into steam that can power your business for years going forward.