Are you willing to spend the time?

April 3, 2009

Building relationships takes time, are you willing to put in the effort?

Chris Brogan had a great post today. That’s not a surprise, Chris has pretty good posts everyday. Today’s post was about “promoting-without being that guy“. The basic tenet of his post was that the most effective communication happens after relationship has been built.

After reading the post my nagging thought was, who has the time? Or, probably more accurately, whose boss will give them the time? Social media is all about the relationship which is fine because people buy from people but it takes the time to build the relationship.

Are our expectations skewed?

I think marketers approach business relationships with a different set of expectations than personal ones. The expectation with personal relationships is that they are long term, will take time to develop and require work and effort. The expectation of most business relationships is that they are short term and disposable.

Business is just not set up for nurturing long term growth.

Yeah I know everyone will say it is, but it isn’t. They will argue that focused short term growth leads to continued long term growth and it does but at what cost in finding new business? If you look at the most successful sales guys you know. I bet most of them have been in the same industry or geography for a long time. They have built the relationships that keep rewarding them.

My experience

I was a territory manager for over 3 years selling AV product for Techrep Marketing. When I started I didn’t know the dealer base, I had no relationship. I spent the first year getting to know my dealers and how they operated. I didn’t try to sell them anything. I made sure that they knew that they could depend on me to show up when I said I would, know the answer or get the answer and sort out their problems.

1 Year, 365 days, of not trying to sell them anything. The way in which Techrep is set up in terms of philosophy and leadership from the owners, compensation and autonomy allowed me the time to build the relationship. I know I would not have had that environment at other companies in my industry and I know my sales would not have increased as much as they did.

Most businesses do not have the patience

Most businesses, due to the myopic quarter by quarter time frames they operate under, do not have the patience or the leeway to allow a social media strategy to grow and evolve. Techrep did and I nearly tripled annual revenues in 3 years.

Social media is a vital and fundamental movement in helping businesses relate to consumers. Those looking to build a succesful relationship with their customers need to take the time to build it. Businesses looking for a quick fix will be sorely disappointed.

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