Doing business is about engaging with people. A company does not do business with another company, people do business with people. Doing good business is about building a relationship between supplier and customer where the customer has confidence in the supplier and the supplier provides the products/services that deliver real value and benefit to the customer. Building relationships takes time. Whether it is a few minutes or several months, or even years, the development of the supplier/customer relationship is a process, not an event.
It never ceases to surprise me how many company owners say that they get all their business from repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. (i.e. they wait for their customers to come to them). There’s no question that repeat and referral business is typically very good business. The laissez-faire approach can be great while things are going well (low sales & marketing overhead means more opportunity for profit), but I believe it is dangerous. The wait for your customers to come to you scenario often arises where a company has a close relationship with a small number of key customers. The commitment to dealing with these customers and keeping the trading relationship good can mean that there seems to be no time to look more widely for business. And why should we? – things are going well! While these relationships may be good, the customers are also likely to be key target prospects for competitors and if the business of a key customer is lost – perhaps representing 20% or more of turnover, the consequences are obvious. Alternatively, a company may have promoted itself hard to build a customer base but as the business reaches a level where the owners are happy, the emphasis on Sales and Marketing reduces and after a while it can be difficult to get things moving again should circumstances change. I have said before that I see Business Development as a process, not an event. Even when things are going well in a business, perhaps to the extent that taking on more work could be embarrassing, the business development process should continue, albeit on tickover. Every business has its less profitable clients as well as its more profitable customers. New business opportunities might be a potential to reduce business with a less worthwhile customer to improve profitability without increasing the overall volume of business.
A sustained Marketing Process gives you control over your business.
Just do it!
The first step is simple. Decide to do something to develop your business Every Month – or Every Week. If you set aside half a day each week to focus on marketing and developing your business, you will be surprised what a difference it can make. I realise that the phone can ring and customers must be serviced but, in my experience, the time can be found. If you are really struggling, maybe you need to consider getting someone else involved? The word ‘consultant’ can be anathema to some people but, in my experience, they key is finding the right person and, if you do, the impact on both you and your business can be impressive. It certainly works for us! If you’d like to know our story, do get in touch I said earlier that doing business is about building relationships so a decision to approach even one or two new potential customers each week can be all that is required. As long as these contacts are tracked and developed the relationships which will lead to business can be built and the understanding of the market enhanced.