If ever it was important it would this disruptive year to get real about relationships. Soft skills and CRM for human interaction.
Let’s talk about relationship. After all, it’s the second word in CRM: Customer Relationship Management. Relationship can’t be just a nice way of saying we are grooming someone for sales. We need to really seek to grow relationships.
Yes, Creatio CRM is a powerful business process tool. Yes, it is top-of-class at managing leads. We believe in its value to accelerate digital transformation in any organization. But let’s be clear: none of that means squat if relationship only gets lip service.
Think about the relationships that mean the most to you: Your spouse. Your siblings. Your friends. To be anything more than cordial acquaintances requires time and conversation to form a bond. As you get to know each other, you discover what you have in common, how you are different, and how much you can trust each other.
Why does this matter in business? Go back to those other relationships. Did you propose marriage on the first date? Most people would consider that aggressive and scary and would wisely shut the door on further interaction. Would you consent to sharing a week-long vacation rental in the woods with that person you met once for five minutes over Zoom? Doubtful, unless you like the idea of being a character in a Stephen King story.
Today’s buyers experience the same off-putting when someone they don’t know tries to sell them something they don’t already want. If they get the sense you just want to get to know them to sell them something, you’ve already lost.
Let's make it real
Here’s an example of a positive relationship from our own business. During a conversation with a client’s representative, I learned that he had been in Boy Scouts, as had I. He had fallen in love with nature and the beauty of Glacier National Park as part of his scouting outdoor experiences. He is 15 years younger than I, but we share a passion for hiking. This person now has new responsibilities in which he has turned to me, based on the relationship we already had, for help in accessing and analyzing data to manage logistics with a third party. I have earned the privilege of his trust and become a true partner in his success. I enjoy our conversations, whether I get to encourage his latest hiking excursion or help him solve a process problem. And he seems to appreciate it as well because he continues to call me.
Empathy and communication are at the heart of relationship building. Do you see prospects and customers as people first? Getting curious about who they are and what they care about must precede establishing trust. Effective communication is two-way: receiving as well as sending. We all feel seen and heard when others listen to us. When you prioritize relationships, you will listen more than you speak. You will ask questions, listen to the answers, then ask more questions. It will take time, so be patient. In the process you will identify commonalities you share and ways you can potentially help them achieve the life they want.
When everyone on your team, starting with you and then moving from the front office to marketing to sales to service, becomes passionate about relationships, the people you do business with will notice. Loyalty and referrals will go through the roof. We all have room to improve, so remember that communications skills, even empathetic listening, can be learned. Build it into your training and reviews. And make sure your CRM – customer relationship management – system has the capacity and is fully used to capture who was an Eagle Scout and who has a daughter starting her first year at Michigan State, and then to share that information with everyone in the loop of the relationship.
Are your relationships with customers as rich as you want them to be?
How do you assess how much they believe you care about them as people?
What questions have you used to get to know them better?
We would love to write a follow-up post based on answers to these questions. We also believe your stories of strong or developing customer relationships can inspire other readers. If you have an example to share, we invite you to respond using our contact email, and we’ll consider it for inclusion in a future article.
Business relationships are tricky...