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The Power of Personal Relationships

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The Power of Personal Relationships

Posted by: Eric Rabinowitz
Category: Clients, Customers, Decision Makers, Erik Frantzen, ISV, James P. Cecil, Nurture Marketing, Nurturing, Personal Relationships

Erik Frantzen, President, Nurture Marketing

“Customers, when given a choice of where they spend their money, invariably go back to that place where they have consistently and intentionally been made to feel special” – Marshall Field

After a year of “Zoom” calls and “Teams” meetings, people crave personal interactions. Being on lockdown for COVID-19 reminded us all of the vital importance of relationships to our well-being and livelihood.

In business, we rediscovered that personal connections still matter in our digital age. How well you succeed “post-COVID” will depend on how well you nurture those relationships.

As the world re-opens, now is the perfect time to re-examine how you interact with clients and prospects. If you rely solely on automated tools and social platforms, you are missing out on the long-term value that personal 1:1 relationships can yield.

The More You Learn About Clients, The More You Can Offer Them

Personalizing your outreach can open a gateway to real insights to customers’ real problems. When you interact directly with them, you have the rare opportunity to ask about their needs and the types of technologies they utilize. Their answers then inform the specific solutions you can provide them. The more you learn about them, the more solutions you can offer in the long run.

In fact, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers anticipated the importance of learning about customer needs in one-to-one marketing in the 90s. In the Harvard Business Review in 1999, they explained how this “learning relationship” was key to a successful personalized approach:

“Think of a learning relationship as one that gets smarter with each interaction. The customer tells you of some need and you customize your product or service to meet it. Every interaction and modification improves your ability to fit your product to this particular customer. Eventually, even if a competitor offers the same type of customization and interaction, your customer won’t be able to enjoy the same level of convenience without taking the time to teach a competitor the lessons your company has already learned about their problems.”

So if you’re an ISV in today’s world offering a highly niche switch for a singular task, you likely know the specifics around that customer’s business. Your interaction over selling, for example, your unique vertical software platform because you know the specific challenges of their industry, is a natural entry point into asking about their overall needs. What are their pain points? How can you help? At that moment, you’re not just selling one healthcare or legal industry, government or public sector, or other niche software solution. You’re offering additional solutions for other aspects of their business you know as well as they do.

Many Touchpoints, Yet Less Personal Interactions

Today’s databases and social media platforms have increased sales and marketing efficiencies exponentially. From CRM databases to LinkedIn messages to webinars, our pathways to clients and targeted prospects have multiplied. But a click or a tweet does not equal an actual sale. We may have more touchpoints now, but we often have less personal and productive contact with our prospects.

Business was once built on face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and handwritten notes. Talking to clients on-site or at conferences gave you an insider’s perspective on their goals and challenges. That type of consistent, direct contact nurtured what’s at the core of every successful transaction: the human factor.

Nurture Marketing founder Jim Cecil recognized that purchase decisions depended on that human factor. He accurately predicted how customers in the future would have access to all the product information they would need — yet would still want that personal touch.

Now that any information is available digitally, we forget that decision makers are real people with outside responsibilities like families and mortgages. They want assurance that what they’re buying won’t get them in trouble. They want someone to guide them on making those choices. They want someone they can trust.

Our automated processes and social accounts have put us on the radars of more sales prospects than ever before. But the key to converting awareness into action is not a new tool or CRM system. Success comes from personally nurturing those interactions into productive, helpful, and long-term relationships.

This is the latest in a series of articles by Nurture Marketing to help you identify, create, and grow winning one-to-one connections with customers.

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