"Strangers are just friends you haven't met"
I am one of those weird people who really like people and enjoys finding out about them. Just ask my wife, sending me into a shop to get milk might take 20 minutes as, chances are, I found someone to talk with. I have never found it too difficult to meet new people, make new friends or pick up the phone and call a complete stranger. It’s in my DNA and not being able to talk with people and discover all of their weird and wonderful ideas would be unbearable.
This cannot be said for many of you reading this and I will attempt to break down a few basic tips on doing the unthinkable….building a relationship with someone you don’t know. The results may be very surprising.
I am going to assume we are focussing our energy on business relationships rather than using my tips at the bar on Friday night. I ply my skills in franchising however the principles can be applied to many different industries. There are complexities to every relationship that change as the relationship evolves and here in lies the key…keep it simple. 1. Be Authentic, 2. Get involved online, 3. Get involved offline. As the saying goes, “The trick to social media is to get them off social media”, it’s so 2014.
We are all aware that everyone uses the internet to find out about services or products that we are seeking. Your prospective customers are trying to learn something about you and your company. Stick to the basics or you will lose them forever.
Get ready because this bit is important, unless your product is transacted purely online, get face to face with your potential client or they will never be your client.
Google have done heaps of research about the number of times people must see or hear a message before they can be converted into a customer. The magic number is seven touch points to convert from first date to wedding night. Whether these touch points be digital or physical, the message takes time to hit home and will be accessed in the workplace, on the tram, in a queue everywhere because you cannot avoid multi-channel approach of the way people research.
Let’s look at the simple 21st century ways of relationship builders. There are many tools we must use - both digital and, for those born prior to 2000, analog.
The first date - this is a crucial step as you don’t want to scare people with your mighty intellectual insight - there is loads of time for that. Initial contact is just to establish whether you have the service or product someone needs and wants. This is your opportunity to establish your credentials and build rapport with your new future friend or customer. So, listen to what they want rather than focussing on what you can sell them.
Digital tools include THE INTERNET!
”Wow Dan, earth shattering insight!” I hear you cry. Wanna hear something weird about the world today? Every video watched, every blog read and every Facebook like builds a digital rapport. People watch you online, and they hear your message and start building trust with you. Remember that 99% of people you interact with are people too (unless you call the Melbourne City Council car park fine dispute centre). They have good days and bad days and, sometimes when they call or make contact, you are busy and can’t take the call. Calling back is OK. Sending an Email is OK.
Treating people with respect is paramount. Respect their time, answer their questions directly and respect the money they are looking to invest in you or your product.
In franchising, as with all businesses, there are many different types of new relationships to build. The franchisor needs to recruit new franchisees, the franchisee needs to recruit new customers. The Franchise Area Manager must build a solid relationship with the franchisee as well, without giving value you are just wasting time in a waffle fest.
My last titbit of advice will be this, if you cannot help or add value, connect them with someone that can and BAM…..you just added value. This is a positive outcome and rather than being remembered as the person who wouldn’t take no for an answer, YOU are a connector who helped create the solution.
Bio about Dan Sheehan, Link to his LinkedIn