It’s no secret—we are living in a digital age. Don’t think so? Next time you are out and about just pay attention to how many people are walking head down with their eyes glued to their smartphone. Hey, if you see me I might be one of those people too! Technology—specifically the smartphone—has enriched our lives in many ways. We have instant access to information, there’s an app for just about everything, and we can be more connected to our circle of friends, family and business contacts in ways we never dreamed about 10-15 years ago.
But a funny thing is happening—connections forged by social media, apps and video chats can be very superficial. Those relationships—at least the ones that matter to you the most—still need to be nurtured and respected in ways beyond the tap of a finger can provide. The ability to sit across from someone and hold an intelligent and meaningful 2-way dialogue is still an important skill—in fact I say more important now than ever since technology makes it so easy not to have to do this.
In business, there’s no doubt it’s a buyers world. Consumers are working harder and harder every day to stay more anonymous further into the sales cycle. The latest reports indicate that 78 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever engage a sales professional. What this means is in that 22 percent the sales experience needs to be top level, high touch and highly intelligent. Sales professionals need to be problem identifiers not just problem solvers, and they need to have the finest interpersonal skills—including the most important of all, listening! People will always buy from those who they know, like and trust, so the relationship is paramount. Sound industry/product knowledge is equally important. They go hand in hand. You can’t be a relationship specialist but have no product knowledge—clients won’t trust you to deliver in the end. Similarly, you can have all the product knowledge in the world, but if the client doesn’t like you there’s a really good chance you won’t win their business.
When leads flip to customers, the relationships matter the most. Customer relationship management becomes everything—and no I’m not talking about your CRM! I’m talking about the customer experience and never taking that client for granted. It’s about being an advocate for your client, seeing things from their point of view and always working to exceed their expectations like you did the day you landed them as a client. They say in marriage you should never stop dating. It’s no different with a client. Always court your clients and treat them like they are your only client—no matter how busy you are.
In the end, relationships will always matter. Granted, there are more ways to nurture relationships today, but ultimately it’s the relationships that drive meaningful, long lasting business partnerships. You can’t tweet your way through your business life. At some point, warm, intimate relationship building is needed, and those who can do that with empathy, trust and sincerity will stand out.
I’m excited to work for a company whose brand promise is built on relationships and helping our clients connect with their audiences through authentic experiences. Personally I pride myself on authentic client interactions, and knowing the company I represent lives this as our brand promise is rewarding and energizing. Because no matter how much digital continues to consume our lives we can’t forget people buy from people and always will.
Senior Vice President, Business Development