Building a relationship with your clients follows some very similar stages to building a relationship with your wife or husband.
The primary difference, of course, is that after you have successfully maintained a relationship with a customer, they will go out of their way to help you build a relationship with a new customer.
I’m sure some marriages in this day and age work that way, but it is far from the status quo 😉
Before Any Relationship Has Started
This is the point in which you are both single.
In a business sense, the customer does not know about your business, and you do not know about the customer.
As a business, you are yearning to be introduced to new customers, and are probably trying a bunch of different ways to get that introduction.
A potential customer may not realize that their unique problem or opportunity may actually be solved or enabled by a certain businesses’ product or service.
In a way, you are both looking for each other.
Getting That Introduction
Sometimes your friends will introduce you to someone that they think you may get along with and be able to build a relationship with.
This is as true dating and romance, as it is for business introductions.
Relying on this as an introduction process can be slow, but when it occurs, there is a high chance that there will be a good crossover of values and needs.
In a business setting, this is the same as relying upon word of mouth referrals.
Sometimes you will just by chance encounter them.
You may not have been looking for them, but then an opportunity has presented itself.
You meet a special someone at a social event, work, school or so on.
In a business sense, this is the idea that you will encounter some form of advertising which presents you with an interesting value offer and encourages you to find out more.
This is the origin of the advertising industry, to fill the world with opportunities for a business to interrupt you and pitch a product or a service.
Sometimes they are actively seeking you out
Perhaps you have started asking your friends to set you up on a date, or have decided to try online dating and view the profiles of other people who are looking for a relationship.
In this situation, the individual has taken a proactive decision to start looking.
This space for business used to be dominated by directories such as the yellow pages, which allowed consumers to find categorized listings of businesses that may be able to meet their needs.
Just as the dating world has gone online, so too has the business world.
Note: The internet provides a means for all of these introduction styles to occur. You may receive a word of mouth referral from a friend about a business, you may encounter advertising online, and you may use the internet as a platform to search for a business or solution.