Building relationships for consistent business growth
People are the lifeline of any business. This is why it is important to build new relationships, and continue to nurture them, to ensure consistent business expansion and profitability. I have learned the hard way to always keep expanding my network and to keep adding more people to my funnel, even when I don’t need clients. The biggest mistake we make as entrepreneurs is not seeing each client as a lifetime potential client. Keeping in touch with new, existing, and past clients is extremely paramount, and frequently overlooked. Building a relationship with each person and remaining top of mind is key to organic business growth and long-term success.
No CRM = No relationship system
At a very early point of my freelance career I realized I was using no CRM system. My follow-ups were scattered, I had leads that I never contacted, my email was a big disaster. I had too many email addresses and keeping up with everything was such a hassle. I was extremely disorganized and the consequence was that I missed out on opportunities, because I was too busy chasing my own tail. I found myself chasing my existing clients, racing to keep track of them, and that left very little time to dedicate to nurturing previous clients or meeting new possible prospects. My pipeline was drying up and I felt like there was something that I needed to change, and it needed to change fast! My lack of CRM, emails being disorganized, not building relationships effectively, and not fueling my pipeline, all lead to me consistently leaving money on the table. One day it dawned on me that a real business could not be sustained or scaled in that manner. It’s no wonder now why I couldn’t outsource anything then. I could barely handle the situation myself, how could I possibly explain it to anyone else and calmly hand any of it over?
Being a part of something bigger …
The truth is that building relationships is the only way to build a sustainable business. And this is done through providing valuable content, building value, and being a part of something bigger. Aiming for a one-time sale, then walking away to search for the next client, makes it for a difficult, exhausting, and stressful ‘business model.’ I finally sat down one day, was sick of it all and decided to create an easy system, a CRM that would enable me to automate, organize, prioritize all of my connections and business relationships. I’ve found that it’s impossible to juggle it single-handedly without tools and having a system in place. Also having everything in a single place makes it much easier to manage, and it’s definitely more efficient. It’s embarrassing to admit that for too long I ran my business haphazardly. But I learned many lessons from it, including the fact that I will always struggle to find new business, if I don’t make it my business to build, and nurture my relationships.
Insightly CRM helps me not lose my mind!
I decided to change my approach and sign up for an account with Insightly CRM. I added old, new and prospective clients. This made it much easier to track interactions and it made it possible to keep my pipeline flow without very much effort of my part. I also narrowed it down to two primary email addresses where I conducted business through and not six or seven which made it hard to know which contact was on which email account and where I needed to reply from. Insightly is easy to use and offers an iPhone app, as well as Mail Chimp integration to help me stay top of mind. It was also a simple process to set-up with my Google Apps business email accounts and import contacts easily and quickly. This is something I now know I should have started using on day one. Luckily it’s not too late and taking the time to set this up has already paid off.
Adding snail mail to my follow-up process To enhance my approach, I also created a few different postcards that I can mail out to current, previous, and future clients. This includes new thank you cards, happy new year cards, happy birthday cards, Fourth of July and a few other postcards that I have available to mail out and touch base at least every quarter. People rarely get snail mail anymore, so I thought this would be a good personal touch. My new follow-up system has helped me have a faster response time, stay top of mind. It has also allowed me to keep my pipeline full and saved me from freaking out at the end of the month, wondering where my next client will come from. This has been a great learning experience and I have truly learned the value of being committed to building relationships in order to build a sustainable long-term growth business.