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The Wrenching Truth About Company Relationships

Maintaining relationships with the stakeholders you serve at a company is crucial to driving sales. (After all, you’re not actually doing business with a company; you’re doing business with people who work at that company.) You can use a high-tech tool such as Salesforce.com or PipelineDeals.com to keep a history of your interactions with customers and prospects. But what information do you enter? Here are some guidelines.

Who’s important?

You probably have the business card for your main contact at a company on your desk somewhere. You might have some of your biggest customers’ contact information in your cellphone. But there are probably many others whose contact information you can find only by searching through emails for their signature blocks.

That’s poor strategy for managing something as important as your relationships. And your relationship with your client companies extends well beyond your main contact. Your relationship is with all of the stakeholders you serve in a company.

So who goes into the database? Everybody.

Here’s the rule: If you have any communication with any individual inside your client’s company, enter that person and all of his or her contact information in your sales database.

But contact information isn’t all you will want to track.

What’s important?

During the dozens of conversations you have with people at client companies, your contacts mention all kinds of things. They share personal information about their lives (anniversary dates, children’s names, illnesses), a lot of which is useful for developing deeper relationships. Capturing this information and referring to it in later conversations shows you care.

Your contacts also share business information and preferences so you can better serve them. This information offers insight on how you can create value for them and how you can precisely meet their needs—making you a more trusted, more valuable business partner.

Capture all personal and business information to nurture the client relationship. And later, if someone else needs to help you serve your client, the information you’ve captured will provide a tremendous head start.

Here’s the rule: If it’s important enough that you spent time talking about it, it’s important enough to capture.

Track your commitments.

As you work on winning your dream clients and serving your existing clients, you make commitments. Did you say you’d send your new whitepaper on the latest industry trends? Did you pledge to have an expert within your company contact them? Did you assure the client you’d follow up about an order by a certain date? Each of these sounds easy enough to remember, but you make multiple commitments to multiple clients, and it’s easy to lose track. Your contacts remember your promises, however, and judge you by your ability to keep them.

Capture your commitments in your sales database along with your clients’ contact records. Keep a record of the date you made the commitment and the date that you delivered on it.

Here’s the rule: If it was important enough for you to promise, it is important enough to be captured and tracked.

Find More Clients to Nurture

You can build prospect lists using services such as Data.com, Radius (RadiusIntel.com) and Hoovers.com. These services offer criteria that allow you to precisely match your targets; they supply contact information, including phone numbers.

Think small. Huge, poorly targeted lists waste your time. Instead, invest your time in building smaller, finely tuned lists. Until prospects become clients, limit the lists to key contacts along with their titles and roles.

Nurture contacts on your lead lists. The results from purchased lists often disappoint salespeople because they believe such lists offer ready-to-buy leads. Ready-to-buy leads don’t exist. Remember that even the folks on a high-quality target list need stroking.

 

Frequent SUCCESS contributor Anthony Iannarino (TheSalesBlog.com) wrote “Make 2013 Your Best Sales Year Ever” in the January issue.

Build healthy and lasting relationships–read how in John Maxwell's story, " Building Bridges or Burning Them?" on SUCCESS.com.

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