It can be easy to get caught up in the week-in, week-out routine. But with a little advance planning and an effort to get to know your customers a little better, you can turn your calendar into a valuable relationship-building and sales tool.
Don’t look it as a Monday to Friday grind. You have 52 weeks a year to get to know your customers better, nurture relationships, and position yourself to sell your services and grow your company.
It sounds too simple and too easy, but your calendar can help you stay “on the radar” of your customers and most promising prospects.
Almost every business is relationship-based. Planned contact points allow for natural interaction that can eventually lead to increased sales for you.
So whether you’re high tech (electronic) or old school (paper), start using your calendar to put you in position to interact more often with your customer base, which will lead to a boost to your bottom line. Here’s how:
Make it Fun
All your customers are unique and important, but there are probably interests and passions common to many of them you can use to build relationships. Many of these interests are seasonal, which gives you plenty of time to plan.
- If you’re in part of the country where the start of hunting or fishing season is a huge deal, sponsor a contest for the biggest bass caught, or first deer brought in. If it’s in your budget, you could spring for a hunting or fishing guide to take out some of your best customers.
- If golf is popular with your customer base, mark your calendar for early spring and invite a few clients out for a putting seminar with a local PGA professional. They’ll be thanking you all summer.
- Don’t forget spectator sports. Tailgate parties with clients – especially early in the season when hopes are still high – are always popular. Or for something truly unique, contact the front office of your favorite local professional franchise and ask if there are retired players willing to hold “meet and greet” sessions at area businesses. You probably won’t get Joe Namath, but the costs are usually reasonable and the former players are usually happy to sign autographs, talk about their old teams and comment on the upcoming season.
Make it Personal
You don’t have to send a birthday card to every customer, but it helps if you have at least some idea of what’s going on in their personal lives. If you mark your calendar with events that are important to your client, you can offer congratulations or encouragement, or just check in.
- People appreciate when you take a sincere interest in their kids. But the key word here is, “sincere.” If you know a client‘s daughter is starting her senior year in high school, mark your calendar to send an email in the early fall and ask which colleges she’s considering. Offer to put her in touch with alumni in your network. If his son plays high school basketball, make sure you have the school’s big games on your calendar, and send a (hopefully) congratulatory email the next day.
- Learn about your clients’ non-work interests. Is your best customer a John Grisham fan? If you’ve heard that Grisham’s next legal thriller is coming out in mid-November, mark your calendar to search for reviews online and then forward them to your client.
Make it about Business
You should make it your business to know when your customers’ budgets are being reviewed for the coming year. Make sure they know about new offerings coming from your company that should be included in the coming year’s plans. But you should make this about more than just future purchase orders:
Try to make note of professional milestones. Is your client approaching his fifth anniversary with his company? Send a congratulatory email and invite him to lunch. Also:
- Be aware of important industry events. Send a note to a client wishing him well before he heads off to a high profile trade show or conference.
- Ask about the other side of your customers’ business – the side that doesn’t directly involve you. If his company is bidding on an important project, find out when the decision is expected. Mark the date on your calendar and call to ask how it worked out.
Make it Last
Using your calendar to stay in closer contact with your customers won’t work if it’s a one-time effort. Commit one hour a week to adding information and acting on what you’ve already noted. The improved customer relations will make a big difference for your company in the years ahead.
For More Great Ideas for Entrepreneurs from MP Star Financial:
Entrepreneur Ideas: Planning Your Business Exit Strategy
Entrepreneur Ideas: Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights can Protect Your Work
You can spend more time with your customers when MP Star Financial’s invoice factoring services are ensuring that you have the cash flow needed to run your business. Call MP Star Financial for more information at (800) 833-3765, extension 150.