How to Woo Your Customer When You Can’t Grab a Coffee: Customer Engagement in the Digital Age
Your relationship matters. Your relationship, the rapport and trust you built, is why they stuck with you through COVID. Your relationship is why they are willing to serve as a reference to help you out. Your relationship is why they don’t consider switching to your competitors.
You cannot afford to neglect your relationships with your clients. You cannot afford to allow your sales cycle to be purely transactional. But. It isn’t as easy as it used to be. Travel is less frequent and there is nothing like schmoozing in person.
Don’t give up. You can still build that rapport—you may need to be more flexible, patient and creative.
Likeability trumps logic.
Customers claim that they make decisions based on numbers and facts. They speak the truth! One of the facts that they consider is their relationship with you.
You either have a set of existing clients or prospective clients. You may have both. No matter the makeup of your client portfolio, you want to get to know them. Networking and cultivating relationships are golden in sales. These skills enable you to retain clients and identify or exude reliability to potential clients.
Some things haven’t changed.
JJ Jones, a veteran consultant in the field affirms that,
The salespeople of the 1700s did not have telephones, email, smartphones, video chat, fax machines (okay, you may want to pass on those!), and certainly nothing like social media. Use them but still be YOU.
The nature of business has shifted from coffee houses to our actual houses.
The need to engage clients is more critical today than earlier because people are looking for social connections. Going hybrid and remote has exacerbated this real need.
Social bonds drive us. They drive us to live where we live, dress how we dress, and yes, they impact who we do business with. Prioritize building those bonds by engaging your customer digitally yet meaningfully. Here are tips on how to engage your customer portfolio digitally:
- Ask them how they are doing. Mean it. The same way you check in on families or friends, check in on your clients. When you do it without an agenda or anything business related, it feels (and is!) personal.
- Ask for feedback. Share your company’s progress and roadmap. Ask them what they think and listen. Take notes. You will learn more about your business, your client, and, in turn, they will know that you care about them, their perspective, and meeting their needs.
- Ask them to get involved. A great way to draw a client in is to provide them with a platform, a reputation booster or connections. You want to write a case study? Choose your subject (I.e., your amazing customer) with intention.
- Create a space for clients to engage with each other
- Cultivate an online community. It may be on a social media platform, a slack channel or an email group. Part of what you can bring to the relationship is not only your wisdom but the group wisdom of your client base. The sense of comradeship and allegiance to your company should not be underestimated.
- You can also create online events for larger audiences or for smaller groups. People can “meet” and engage over text or kick it up a notch and have intimate gatherings. This also allows your clients to feel like they are more of an insider in your company.
- Express gratitude. Everyone appreciates being appreciated!
- Call to say thank you either randomly or before a personal or professional milestone of theirs. Or before vacation season.
- Send a video thanking them for an idea that led to some sort of successful outcome, for example.
- Use your social media platform, your personal LinkedIn, or company page if allowed and appropriate, to thank them publicly and give them a nice shout out.
- A handwritten note. Okay it is not digital, but it can be done remotely and is SO personal.
- Swag. Is there a better way to demonstrate gratitude than swag?!
- Don’t change a thing. Get in the game! Cultivate like you used to with a digital twist.
- Ask them out for a virtual coffee. You can even send them a Starbucks gift card or a mug to make the occasion more memorable. (See email template language and tips for virtual coffee break conversation here!)
- Stay connected on LinkedIn with your champion and their company. Engage with their posts. Engage them on your posts.
- Follow social media channels of your clients. Engage with their content.
- Subscribe to receive their company’s email communications. Come to your conversations with insider knowledge that you sought out on your own.
- Offer value. Share relevant articles and insights that you think would interest or benefit your client. Cultivate your relationship by helping them do their job better. Share industry updates and secrets like you do for good colleagues and friends.
- Challenge them. Offer new perspectives to help them improve their processes. Don’t just say “yes” to whatever they say. Your pushing back demonstrates that you really care and have experience and wisdom to offer clients.
Remember your bottom line.
I know. I totally get it. You have short term quarterly numbers to hit and annual goals. Remember, and you may need to remind the person or board you report to, that ultimately what is most critical is your customer lifetime value. You will see it in their loyalty as an ongoing customer and by the referrals and references they provide. Don’t be blinded or limited by the financial bottom line or size of the account. Don’t underestimate the power of human connection. Go ahead and grab that coffee in person or virtually.
Speaking of the human connection and relationship building, want to make sure that you maintain your relationships with your prospects and clients while staying on the same page as your colleagues? Collabria recently designed our design partner program. It makes it possible for you to follow through on promises made to clients, with collaboration as needed, quickly and efficiently, so that you maintain long lasting relationships.
Want in? Become a Collabria Design Partner. You gain free access AND we will send you some swag.