In an age where we’re all spending 12+ hours a day staring a screen, where nearly everything is automated, people crave the human element. They crave relationship. The need for human connection is why social media is so popular—in spite of the fact that it’s also elusive on online platforms.
This craving for relationship gives companies a unique opportunity to fill a desire that few of their competitors are successfully focusing on, to make relationship the center of their brands.
We no longer buy products and services merely because of the products and services themselves. We buy the experience of doing business with the brand or to experience the story the brand has created. Why else would people pay $4-5 for a latte? Or $175 for a t-shirt?
Consider your last experience with a salesperson or a customer service representative. There are a few companies out there who understand the impact of experience, but you don’t run into them very often.
Relationship is part of experience but goes beyond it. If you have a relationship with a person, you care about their goals and what they want to accomplish, you care about their success.
Relationship in Sales
When your best friend shares with you his desire to be a better parent or her ambition to start her own company, you probably don’t respond by saying, “Before we talk further, I’ll need all the people influencing this decision to be involved in the conversation, so we don’t waste anyone’s time.” That would be horrific. No, you dig in to find out what’s causing your friend pain, or what’s really driving her. You want to help. You listen. You offer him advice. You get her connected with whoever she needs to be connected with to help her reach her goals.
Yes, Sales does need to talk to all the decision-makers. But how much more effective would it be to listen and learn the needs and motivations of the person you’re talking with, whether or not he or she makes the final decision? You may be able to come up with a solution that addresses that person’s needs and give him or her a reason to champion you to the higher-ups.
Relationship in Marketing
Companies have one main objective with their marketing: to generate leads. To start the process that will result in a new customer. But when companies focus solely on their own objective, they end up being ineffective. Inbound/content marketing is no exception.
How many super-annoying emails have you received after filling out a form for an eBook? You probably can’t even count them. Last week I got four phone calls from a company “just following up” to “schedule a time to chat” and “learn about my needs for [their product]” after a webinar I’d signed up for. Was I fooled for one minute into thinking that they really cared about my needs? No.
Inbound marketing that’s effective is sensitive to the relationship. What does the prospect REALLY need at this point in the buyer’s journey? How can the company provide for those needs in a way that feels genuine and authentically caring?
In a world where relationship is so rare, companies that build it into the foundation of their brands will stand out and attract the new business they’re looking for. They'll also keep their existing customers happy and make them unlikely to switch to a competitor.