Sep 6, 2012

What’s in a Community? Relationships!

Sales is based on relationships. Your customers won’t buy from you unless they like you, trust you and find you credible. But the challenge is relationship building is time consuming.

Until very recently relationship building was not a scalable activity. There are only so many hours in the day for lunches, phone calls and emails. But social media communities are changing that dynamic. Now it’s possible to engage, nurture and grow relationships with people all over the world.

Community building is an excellent platform for building and scaling your relationships.

It starts with a connection

Participating in and leading communities has a similar effect to getting face-to-face and belly-to-belly with people. You may not be able to see the whites of your members’ eyes on LinkedIn or Facebook, but you are able to engage them in conversation and help each other. Those interactions add up, and form the foundation of a relationship.

The formula is straightforward. Connections lead to conversations, which lead to relationships. And those relationships can generate both referrals and new clients. This is not a new concept. Relationship building has been around since time began. All social media is doing is accelerating the process, and making it easier to connect and communicate with people around the world.

Relationships are better than leads

A lead is a transaction. For example, a lead from your website is a starting point. A prospect has come across your company, conducted a preliminary evaluation and is looking for more information. Some prospects just want a price to compare you to the other guys, and others want more. But either way, a lead is not steeped in like or trust, because the relationship hasn’t formed yet.

A relationship is ongoing. When you receive a request from someone who already knows you, likes you and trusts you, the sales process is well underway. They don’t need to be sold to. And they don’t need to have a detailed explanation of why you’re different. They already know the basics, and they want your help to solve a problem.

Relationships make the sales process more efficient, focused and enjoyable.

Invest in your community

The value of a community is in its relationships. It’s the act of sharing, participating and connecting with like-minded people that creates so much opportunity. And with social media you can achieve so much more, because you can increase your reach and your engagement dramatically. Leading and building social media communities is the secret sauce for scaling your relationships.

What’s your take?

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