For me, 2014 will be a year to build relationships. Come to think of it, 2013 was a year to build relationships too. As a matter of fact, 2012 and every year back as far as I can recall was a year to build relationships. That is my number one priority in business and will always be my number one priority.
The key to building and keeping business is the bond you forge with your clients. For example, if you have a relationship based upon, "low price gets the deal," as soon as your competition's pricing is lower than yours, you've lost your business. You need to strengthen the bond, go beyond the dating phase eventually and start building something serious.
And, just exactly what does building a bond look like? It can be a fairly simple task, involving just a few basic building blocks. Let me show you how to date, before you actually get to "marry" your clients. Let's not jump into too many details right out of the gate. I'm going to start you off nice and slow.
Try a simple exercise. Take the first 30 days of the new year (that's a good bite size bit) and make a few commitments. Commitment number one - Be on time for every meeting you have scheduled. For some of you, this will be a slam dunk. For others, this will be a huge challenge. Commitment number one has a couple rules. First, on time does not mean 15 minutes late. If you have an appointment at 10AM, anything after 10AM is late. Second rule, there is no excuse for lateness including traffic, speeding ticket, accident, weather or personal drama.
Next, commitment number 2, return all of your phone calls within the same business day. I don't like the 24-hour rule. There was a time when 24 hour turnaround was acceptable. Those days are over. Look at it this way; imagine receiving a message from a famous movie star or ball player you've always wanted to meet. If you got their message, would you wait until the next day to return the call? Heck no, you'd probably jump over the sofa to get to your phone to return the call. Treat normal people in your life like movie stars. If you really want to challenge yourself, try to return calls within 2 hours.
Emails, should be prioritize and respond to quickly. That's commitment number 3. When scanning your email, avoid the urge to check out the amazing sale Kohls is offering (again) or clicking on that offer to fly to Paradise for $99. Scan your IN box quickly. Weed our generic emails and respond to any urgent requests. This is not your time to get distracted by your Facebook wall or JT's fan page. Stay focused, Pinterest can wait -- I promise. Rule of thumb for me, touch the email only once if possible, respond to it and move on.
Now here comes the last (and biggest) one. Commitment number 4. I'm taking the velvet off my sledge hammer, so please don't get bent out of shape if you feel as though I'm calling you out. Commitment number 4 -- Do not ever lie or bend the truth. As my mom always says, "Some people tell the truth with reckless abandon." Don't be reckless. Take a consultant's role when advising your client. Try to put yourself in their position (as the prospect or client) and help them make a proper decision. A decision that benefits you financially but does nothing for your client is not a good way to strengthen your bond with them. Respect your client and treat them as you would like to be treated.
Follow the above 4 commitments for 30 days...make them your new default. I promise you will feel better about yourself, all the while building great new relationships and strenthening the bonds you have with existing clients. After 30 days you will want to continue because you will be more efficient, more effective, more productive and you will feel great about accomplishing a challenging goal.
Let's make 2014 an incredibly rewarding year with a ton of amazing relationships.