Business Relationships and the Freeway.
The city traffic swarms in every direction and looking down onto a freeway you often use, intersecting with a major road you turn onto, imagine that the freeway traffic represents the high volume of people you meet through corporate events, after work drinks and networking. You know them the least. The major road represents people you have taken into a selling cycle. You know more about them.
These two are different relationship models. The freeway is the business relationship pipeline. The major road is the sales pipeline. Manage these and one will better merge into the other, increasing sales.
Meeting people who have recently moved to our city, my advice has been to set up a business relationship pipeline with an ambitious target of 1,000 people in the first year as you'll meet buyers along the way. Bring this group under your management to build a foundation for growth. This could equally apply to change of position, change of industry, return to workforce or new to workforce.
The sales relationship is different to the business relationship (no selling) and they are both different to the personal relationship (less business discussion). We need to review business relationships, apply improvements and give direction to help people and businesses.
Setting up a business relationship pipeline in your CRM database, add activities to the lookup list that will stimulate relationships:
Read their website, social media and google to increase your knowledge of their business (Increased knowledge)
Ask what key issues they currently face. If you know someone who can help them, organise a get together (Key Issues)
Ask about their key success factors, both implemented and planned. Gather knowledge and organise the next discussion (Success factors)
Their list of priorities indicates who they will be doing business with next. If it's not you then bring relevant information or an associate referral to a meeting (Priorities)
If you have ideas for them about greater customer success, see if they are interested to know more. (Greater customer success).
To develop business relationships, gather the information above and try not to skew the questions back to your own product or service, because that's part of the sales cycle which is something different.
Apply the relationship stimulus philosophy to your online community. I know someone who does it really well, dragging me between social media platforms to be involved in things they have created.
You can actively manage business relationships as a pipeline in your Sales Management / CRM database. Choose who you want to build relationships with and develop a perfectly targeted business relationship pipeline which will feed your sales pipeline. Our goals are increased sales and improved targeting.