Live or die? Not too long ago our ability to survive directly correlated to our ability to develop relationships with our families and local tribes. In modern times-- and especially in business, our ability to develop relationships can mean the difference between thriving and losing out. We are biologically wired to be social creatures, and so it seems that building networks should come naturally. But, our prehistoric system is able to handle no more than 100 relationships, 50 semi-effectively, and in the last decade the number of accessible people and the ease of connection has increased exponentially. Now you can be in touch with tens of thousands of people. This is a bit more than we are designed to meaningfully manage.
To discover the new questions and solutions around business relationship management, Bruce Holoubek, owner of Contracted Leadership, and Host of The Development Exponent Podcast talks to Zvi Band, the Founder of Contactually, a relationship-oriented CRM company. The company grew to eight figures in revenue and to a team of 70 before being acquired. Zvi Band is also the Author of Success is in Your Sphere, a book cataloging his success with Contactually, that also acts as a guide to effectively using the CRM.
The primary challenges for maintaining relationships are always, knowing whom to talk to, when to talk to them, and what to say that will show our value, which will allow us to maintain the relationship.
But, the fundamental, and often most difficult challenge that we are all faced with is that we are all wired for short term benefits. If we weren’t, we would choose to act how “future us” would act; we would eat that salad instead of the burger, we would save that dollar instead of online shop. Likewise, in the business world we are focused on what is immediately in front of us, and on what is going to fill that quota or sale today or tomorrow, not four years from now.
It’s easy to look backward and say that we received a benefit or job because of someone we knew, but when we have the choice to focus on the immediate or on calling a former client and checking in with them, we choose to deal with urgent matters at hand. This is where technology, such as a CRM system can help set reminders to reach out.
When relationships matter to us, it’s not just the relationships with our clients. It’s the relationships with our teams, employees, partners, and vendors. Companies that successfully execute on relationship management are evident in how their employees and contractors rate them on review sites like Glass Door.
Here are some effective ways to win at relationship management with our teams and clients:
Part of developing these good relationships among our teams involves humility. If we as leaders allow our ideas and products to be open to review and suggestions from our employees, it will allow our employees to know that they can bring and explore their own ideas without being immediately shut down. Our vulnerability helps foster trust within our organizations. We shouldn’t be, “the smartest person in the room.”
Boost this by making sure that everyone in the room has a voice, and become a, “yes, and…” culture of people building on each other's ideas. (For reference see the acclaimed book, Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City )
Finding the right CRM system, like Contextually is imperative, but it is like buying a Chef’s knife-- you have to learn how to use it gain from it. Use guides, such as videos, or Zvi Band’s book, Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals, on learning the system to have it work best for you. For example, if there is an option to create a drip campaign, have your people think of the most relevant ways to time it and not just go with a standard setting. Set your own strategy.
Ultimately, for any connection development we need to start with a strategy. Start with the goal in mind: identify what your goals are for the year. Identify the people who can help you with those goals. Pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you. Hope all is alright.” Just those words, “hope all is alright,” are all we really want to hear-- to know that somebody cares and we are not alone.
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