You have a business and you want it to grow, so you know you have to make contacts and turn them into connections that lead to business growth. But thinking about the effort as ‘sales’ and ‘selling’ intimidates many, so try to think about it as relationship building.
Nurturing prospects and clients is important to retaining business – and retaining and building your business is your goal, right?
Here are some tactics you can try. Give any or all of them a shot to find what feels best for you and works best for your business.
Offer a perk to a returning client to make her feel special. Perhaps a discount on new work; a discount once a year to see if that encourages clients to hire you for new work. Perks don’t have to be discounts, you could offer a free marketing report for their area of expertise.
Keep in touch with your past clients on a regular basis – whether it’s an e-mail to touch base quarterly, or sending an article, or a link to a resource on a topic you think they might find interesting, having your name in front of them a couple times a year can keep you on their mind when they have a new project. Sending a short, personal note to a contact that shows you’re staying aware of their business in some way can go a long way in building that long-term relationship.
Meet for coffee. This could be with past, current, and potential clients that are local – meet to learn about each other’s businesses or to catch up. Don’t make it a sales-y type meeting, just a relationship building get together. With contacts further away, you could plan to meet up at a conference, when you’re in their town for some other business, or you find out they are coming near to you for some event.
Keep your clients smiling by meeting deadlines, staying within their budget, delivering what was agreed upon, and being available as they need you (within reason, of course!).
Treating new contacts as though they are friends you want to get to know better will keep your name at the front of their minds when they have a project come along. If you treat your current clients well, they will be inclined to come back. And all efforts can potentially lead to new work.
These are only a few ideas to help you build or maintain relationships.
How do you keep your name on your clients’ minds?
Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.