By understanding the formula for building a relationship with an ideal client, the greater the Return on Relationship, or RoR. In some ways, the RoR formula is like gardening, and can be divided into four stages over time:
Planting the seeds
In the “planting” stage, initially both parties seek to determine if “the soil is fertile ground”. The goal of early interactions is to determine if it will be beneficial to build a relationship. After your initial exchange to explore opportunities, connecting in person may provide the path to really getting to know someone and their business. You can meet local contacts for coffee or lunch; or at an event or if you travel regularly, arrange a meet up in the city you’re visiting.
During your first exchange, don’t be shy about asking questions and checking your understanding along the way, to make sure you’re on the same page. People generally appreciate that you’re willing to dig deep to understand their business, instead of applying a one-size fits all solution to each project. And yes: talk about rates in the first discussion to avoid wasting everyone’s time if you’re not in the same ballpark.
At the end of the exploratory stage, you’ll have a better sense of whether it’s worth investing the time and resources needed to drive a deeper, more collaborative engagement. A follow-up email or mailed note is always appreciated to confirm the following:
- If you decide to pursue the relationship, include an outline of your offerings, your pricing range, and suggested next steps.
- Even if you decide not to go further with the relationship – it may lead to a referral for you down the road.
Tending the garden
If the exploratory stage has been positive, the relationship is expected to grow. Both parties see the potential in working together.
Give the relationship the attention it needs. Concerns may pop up as you get to know each other’s business and begin working together, and they usually do. If you address them head on, in a friendly manner, and are frank about the challenges you’re having, your best clients will appreciate this kind of openness and work with you to address challenges.
As you work together, take every opportunity to let them know and to demonstrate that you have a variety of skills or offers that you can provide them. This is the best way to make sure they keep coming back, even when their needs change.
Nurturing the perennials
As the relationship blossoms, and both sides develop a deeper appreciation for the value of working together, you’re on the path to making it long-term. These enduring connections are among the most important assets in your business. Water them like you would a garden. Keep in touch on a regular basis, even when you haven’t heard from them in a while. And enjoy the bounty you’ll receive in return – it’s called brand loyalty.
- Boundary re-defining
Expanding the garden
As your business relationship matures, broader horizons may appear for new ventures and propositions. A simple example of this is when customers become business partners or co-creators. Interconnected relationships are true partnerships in which both parties coordinate activities across a broader range of functions.
The RoR formula, when adapted to your own personal style, can provide a sustainable source of business opportunities for years to come. And at Impagination, we help our clients do just that!
Reach out for a no-obligation conversation about our programs and tools designed to help you identify, connect with and grow relationships with your best clients.