29 Jul Making Your Customers Your Best Friends
Sales and marketing is all about building connections. After all, it typically takes multiple touchpoints before someone goes from being a stranger to a prospect to a customer, and to do that you have to interact with them multiple times. And it goes without saying that these interactions will be made a lot easier if you’re able to build a relationship.
That’s where the idea of making friends comes from, even if that can seem like a grand term for something that ultimately has a transactional goal at the end of it. Marketers and salespeople are often known for being pushy, and if people feel as though you’re only talking to them because you want to sell to them, they’re going to quickly lose interest and look elsewhere.
That’s why marketing has shifted away from interruptive mediums such as television and radio ads and moved closer to providing entertainment and information in the form of content marketing. The art of sales has evolved too, and now companies are starting to realise that monitoring traditional metrics such as the number of conversions and the number of phone calls made could be counterproductive when it comes to the success of their company.
Making friends with customers
In the good old days, companies found it easy to make friends with their customers because we mostly did business with people within our local community. We knew the postman, the shopkeeper and the banker because we lived and worked within similar social circles. But times have changed, and there’s really no longer any such thing as a local business.
These days, companies conduct business with customers from all over the world, and so striking up friendships isn’t as easy as having a chat over the weather when someone nips in to make a purchase. Instead, we need to use new technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop a more personalised experience both online and off.
Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar famously created the idea of Dunbar’s Number, a theoretical limit to the number of friends that any one person can make. Dunbar put this number at 150, but what that number is doesn’t really matter as long as we can agree that the concept itself is solid. As human beings, we can’t possibly make friends with as many people as we’re expected to deal with in the work environment, but technology can take on much of the work and help us to break through the limits imposed on us by Dunbar’s Number.
Ultimately, making customers your best friends is a good idea because it helps you to create a sustainable business instead of focussing on short-term sales. The truth is that people like to do business with the people they like, and if you’re able to form friendships instead of mere business relationships, people are going to go out of their way to work with you and to recommend your company to their friends and family.
The good news is that making friends with your customers is relatively easy these days thanks to new technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, artificial intelligence and the boom in personalised marketing. The key is for you to find an approach that works for both you and your customers and which allows you to build relationships at scale over time. Good luck.