Turf Magazine - February, 2013

FEATURES

Sponsored by U.S. Lawns: 10 Great Ways to Stay Connected to Clients

By Paul Wolbert

We all hear things from different conferences and seminars, or we read articles to further our education. Recently I was reading an article where the author said, "People don't know what they like, they like what they know." The key to business is the ability to be relevant and top of mind when a business need arises.

So, how can we creatively touch base on a consistent basis to stay 'top of mind' with customers and prospects without looking out of place?

An important part of keeping up a good relationship with customers or prospects these days is using technology to manage and maintain those relationships. That often comes in the form of contact management software or a good customer relationship management (CRM) system. You have a lot of options today from a simple app that comes with computers, smartphones and tablets to the more advanced systems of ACT and SalesForce. The best piece of advice is to find a system you feel comfortable with and use it every day. It sure beats the yellow pad, sticky notes or index cards.

Now that I have this tool, how can I use it to build relationships? Let's look at some ways that we can stand out with customers and prospects.

1. When you are talking with them pay attention to the surroundings in their office. Make some notes to talk about favorite things, hobbies, sports or travel. The pictures they have tell a great story. Don't be afraid to use this information in conversations. Customers and prospects do want to talk about themselves, so ask them the questions and then listen.

2. Be a connector. Introduce yourself customers or prospects to potential clients, vendors or industry peers. Remember to explain why you are making this introduction and then let the introduction go.

3. With today's technology we forget about a handwritten note to someone. Make an impression and send out a handwritten note to someone. They will talk about it for weeks.

4. Remember birthday greetings by reaching out with a handwritten card or even an electronic one. It's nice to be remembered on that special day of the year. Make it personal and add some tasteful humor.

5. Offer assistance. We have all heard the saying "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." Use the information that you have gathered along the way if the customer is involved in a special event see if you can offer a hand, whether it be through the donation of time or materials.

6. You may be involved in a networking group or industry that's having a special event and your customer or prospect has a common interest with you. Go ahead and extend an invitation to them to join you. What better way to make an impression?

7. Maybe you have a new product that you're using or you have read a whitepaper or attended a webinar that might benefit others. Go ahead and share that information. You want to further your reputation as being a go-to person that shares with others when the need arises. You want to hear from your contacts when the need arises.

8. Send a postcard because direct mail still works. It's a simple way to stay in front of customers or prospects.

9. I know everyone is saying I send holiday cards out in December. How about picking a time of the year that is different? What about a card for the Fourth of July? It will definitely get attention and will be a point of conversation.

10. Social media: Look at the pages generated by your customers and prospects. "Like" their pages. Offer comments. Make connections on LinkedIn. Give a recommendation or make a new friend. Usually, you have to give before you can get. That's how things work.

So now you have some options to choose from. You don't have to do all of them to be successful. However, you need to be top of mind and remain actively engaged with clients and prospects. If you don't you will fade into the stack of contacts and become one of many.

Have some fun and make some impressions with your current connections.

With more than 30 years of experience in franchising, sales and business operations, Paul Wolbert knows franchising like the back of his hand. He helps potential new franchisees make their decision to come into the market, and his in-depth knowledge of the green industry allows him to keep the U.S. Lawns marketing plan on target for franchisees' growth and for all divisions of U.S. Lawn's business to thrive in any economy. He has helped build the U.S. Lawn business to where it is today.