Your business thrives on your making contacts and getting new business. What happens after you’ve made the sale and they are now a client? How often should you be in touch with that person? What are some rules of thumb for keeping in touch and nurturing your relationship? Staying in touch is an important part of the networking process. Here are several tips for keeping in touch and strengthening your business relationships:
1. Spread out your contacts. Regardless of the level of your relationship with your clients, regular contact is generally good. Two short meetings or phone calls are more beneficial than one long session. Each meeting becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to enhance your visibility and recognition.
2. Schedule predictably. Stay in touch with your clients regularly and consistently. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. For example, if you usually contact certain customers during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and will budget time for you. If they don’t hear from you, they may actually call to see how you are doing on their own.
3. Make each contact lead to the next. Before concluding a meeting or telephone conversation, schedule the date of your next contact. In written correspondence, close by stating the date your customer should expect to hear from you again: “I’ll send you a note or email by the end of the quarter.” Having made the commitment, you’re more likely to follow through. This practice establishes a chain of contacts, with each meeting leading to the next.
4. Assume responsibility for making contact. You can’t control whether clients will contact you, but you can control when you contact them. Take the initiative; stay in touch with your customers. This is especially important for your most important clients. When clients or customers do not feel cared for – they are more likely to try someone else. By staying in touch with them, you are much more likely to head off potential problems down the road.
5. Invite them to networking events. One way of making sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite select ones to some of the networking events that you go to. This is a great way to meet with them periodically while getting you out of your cave to network and to meet other people.
6. Stick to your plan. As you achieve success in establishing routines with your sources, some of them may begin taking initiative with contact. Don’t let this interfere with your contact schedule — that is, don’t count it when they initiate the call as one of the contacts you’ve scheduled.
About the Co-Author: Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization, which has more than 4,900 chapters in 37 countries. Dr. Misner is also the author of several books, including the most recent addition to the bestselling Masters Series—Masters of Sales (www.mastersbooks.com), and the New York Times bestseller TRUTH OR DELUSION? (www.truthordelusion.com); and he is the Senior Partner for the Referral Institute (www.referralinstitute.com), a referral training company with operations around the world.
About Our Show Advisor: Bertrand McHenry spent 22 years developing his skills in outside sales. Starting out in the cell phone business, then to Pitney Bowes, Dictaphone Division, and finally in Medical Diagnostic Equipment Sales. His expertise became finding, training, and developing dynamic and record setting sales teams. A number of years ago he was introduced to the concept of “Referral Marketing” as a strategy for growing his business. It worked and he was hooked! At a conference Bertrand was presented with the Referral Institute opportunity and “I was intrigued so I began researching the company and its curriculum. It is actually the only company teaching Referral Marketing as a strategy to business owners and entrepreneurs around the world…so it didn’t take me long.” These days Bertrand is doing what he loves and what he does best…teach and train! “There is a lot of misunderstanding around the words “networking” and “referral marketing”. People make a lot of assumptions about those two words, and most of those assumptions are wrong! I can tell you without a doubt that Referral Marketing is the most powerful form of marketing there is. If we structure a referral marketing strategy and follow through week after week and just use the V.C.P relationship model…we can actually predict our income 6, 9, even 12 months out!” Most recently he has been quoted on yahoofinance.com, maimiherald.com, morningstar.com and USA Today featured him in an article on today’s economy calling him a “Trendsetter in the New Economy!” He is also a contributing author on Brian Tracy’s newest book titled “The Only Business Book You’ll Ever Need to Buy” due out in February 2012 Bertrand also hosted a radio show “Business Builders Radio” on CBS radio, Talk 650 AM. The radio show was dedicated to teaching the concepts of referral marketing and helping as many business owners as possible. Bertrand is fond of saying: “I love to teach business owners to Work Less, Play More, Make More Money, and Create Referrals for Life!”