Director, Content Marketing
How much effort does your business put into building lasting relationships with customers?
If you had to rack your brain to come up with an answer to that one, you probably aren’t doing enough.
Think about it. After the deal is closed, the customer is onboarded, and everything is back to business as usual, when do they hear from you next? Do they get crickets until renewal time comes around or an invoice comes due?
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, this scenario isn’t uncommon with many businesses. But ideally, businesses would keep the relationship warm by staying in touch and building rapport through regular, friendly touchpoints over time.
Because building meaningful customer relationships isn’t as simple as shipping product or sending out yearly holiday emails; it requires consistency and a long-term strategy. Just like your relationship with your best friend or spouse, business relationships take some work and thought to get right.
And now, with the Great Resignation disrupting the working landscape as we knew it — and the continuing unpredictability of the pandemic — many businesses across the country are taking relationship building to another level as they strive to regain stability in our post-pandemic world.
Evolve your customer relationship management strategy along with an evolving workforce
COVID’s impact on the economy and business outlook continues to evolve. Beyond the seismic ruptures from the obvious initial impacts — high unemployment, business closures and a historic recession — the workforce looks more than a little different amid the rapid digitization of industry and the Great Resignation.
So much movement and volatility puts many of our most critical business relationships in jeopardy.
The Great Resignation presents a unique challenge for B2B businesses beyond struggles with employee retention — a challenge that could even impact your bottom line. Think about it like this: Your customer contacts could be the ones jumping ship, and without a plan in place, you may be in danger of losing key accounts. Especially if you only have a single point of contact in these organizations.
And if that’s the case, then something needs to change. Fast.
With an evolving workforce comes the need to evolve your B2B relationship management strategy to protect the heart of your business: your customer relationships.
The flaw of traditional B2B relationship management strategies
One of the biggest mistakes B2B companies can make is relying too much on one contact within a customer company. Because, if you only have a single contact within an entire company, what happens if they leave?
With just a single connection within your customer companies, it’s likely that you know very little about the company’s actual commitment to you or your business offerings.
Think about your key accounts, and ask yourself some questions:
- Do you have multiple contacts from various seniority levels?
- Are your contacts decision-makers in the organization?
- What is the company’s overall sentiment of your company’s services?
- Is the product champion the only one advocating for you?
- Does the company actively engage with you at events and online?
It’s time to start looking at relationships not just as people connecting with people, but also as businesses connecting with businesses.
Don’t panic; we’ve put together a list of helpful techniques to build customer relationships that center around this philosophy.
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8 techniques to build customer relationships
Putting in place new techniques to build customer relationships right away will go a long way to help minimize the potential impact of workforce volatility on your business.
1. Identify your weak spots: Go through all your customers and company accounts and see how many are “single-threaded,” aka only have one contact associated with the account. Then, identify how many of these accounts are “key accounts,” aka accounts that would severely impact your bottom line if you lost them. Prioritize these accounts first.
2. Create a strategy for connecting with other contacts within companies: Be strategic about developing new connections. For instance, if you’re a software company, instead of setting your salesperson and your customer’s decision-maker up as the only connection, consider connecting your developers with their developers. It’s a great way to establish multiple contacts and build champions throughout an organization. This same approach applies to other industries, too.
3. Meet customers where they are: Not all companies will respond to your communications in the same way. That’s why it’s essential to have several means of communication and multiple strategies for connection (email, phone, LinkedIn, FB messenger, Slack – whatever works for your individual contacts). Keep notes in your CRM about what works for each person and focus on connecting with them in that way.
4. Track meaningful metrics: If you focus your relationship-building on revenue, your team will inevitably lean on short-term techniques. Instead, use your CRM to collect and monitor long-term metrics, like customer lifetime value. This tells you how you’re doing on the relationship front while keeping an eye on the value you’re providing customers.
5. Use your CRM to automate relationship building, tastefully: Build pipelines within your CRM to automate relationship-building tasks. Just like you have a sales pipeline, consider one that’s focused on relationships. Relationship-building takes time and consistency, so the more you can automate and track the process, without losing the personal touch, the more successful you’ll be. For example, you might balance an automated monthly customer newsletter with quarterly personal check-in calls with customers that automatically populate as tasks into your calendar.
6. Get high-level connections: Your goal should always be to connect with high-level employees at your customer’s companies because at the end of the day, they’re the decision-makers around whether your product or service stays. This may mean bringing in your executive staff to communicate with your customer’s leadership. Often, CEOs won’t talk to salespeople, but they might talk to other CEOs. Find a way to connect and build relationships with as many senior-level staff as possible to build rapport all the way up the ladder.
7. Make cross-company connections collaborative: Get your whole team involved with making multiple company contacts. It isn’t efficient or scalable to rely on one person to connect with multiple people in an organization. Instead, make relationship-building a collaborative effort, and get your whole team on board with sharing contacts and building connections. LinkedIn and Twitter connections can begin to deepen those key account connections.
8. Create and track your company’s value: If a relationship doesn’t provide mutual value, it isn’t worth maintaining. Communicate with all your contacts regularly about the value you offer them. Know what holes your product fills and the problems you solve. Establishing multiple connections within one company will distribute your message more widely and across more perspectives. Someone in sales might have a completely different opinion than someone in marketing about why your particular solution is valuable. Cross-company connections also ensure that if a contact leaves the company, you aren’t left scrambling to demonstrate the value you provide to other departments and key decision-makers within the organization.
Use your CRM to strengthen relationships with a cross-company approach
Establishing connections throughout a company should be a central component of your B2B relationship management strategy. You never want to be dependent on one contact and risk losing your customer if they leave.
Get your entire team on board by forging meaningful connections and let your CRM help you. By taking the steps to build customer trust across the entire customer company, you’ll be prepared no matter what comes your way.
Copper is a CRM designed to help businesses build meaningful, enduring relationships with their customers. Try us free for 14 days to see how it works.