Sometimes my heart clenches when the phone rings. It happens when callers dive right into an obvious script. They typically represent a large company that developed a perfect script based on human behavior. They ask you yes or no and multiple choice questions. Then they ask for a credit card number. I often abandon the phone long before hearing the whole script. However, as a business consultant and former technology architect, I sometimes listen out of curiosity.
It amazes me that companies believe someone would whip out a credit card without developing an authentic relationship. In my book, it falls short of trustworthy communication. I guess people provide their cards, or the calls would stop.
What does this have to do with a small business owner? It is about relationships. I meet business people who dive right into a sale before they even know me. It is not as extreme as the programmed script described, but it is just as uncomfortable.
Build a relationship with people. If you meet someone and feel a connection, nurture it. I’ve met people at networking events who take my card while looking around for the next one. They sometimes put me on their list without permission. I prefer to develop a relationship first. Here are my tips for developing strong relationships:
- Follow up after meeting someone.
- Keep in touch for no specific reason.
- Give first-perhaps a sample service or product.
- Pass along introductions, articles or a reference to your conversations.
- Keep in touch.
- Intersperse sales offers with other interactions.
I have read it takes up to seven interactions to build rapport. How can you blend service, samples, inspiration and other reasons to keep in touch rather than exclusively asking for the sale? Build an authentic relationship. It can be powerful.