When it comes to business development, nurturing is a combination of sales and networking.
“A close is by no means the end of the funnel,” Gunner Technology CEO Cody Swann said. “In fact, it can be the start of a much more lucrative funnel.”
There’s three goals of nurturing.
First, it’s to make sure the client is happy.
Second, it’s to get more business from the happy client and make them happier.
Third, it’s to get your happy client to let other people know why they’re happy.
“In the first sense, it’s just good business,” Swann said. “You want to check in with your client and make sure they’re happy. If you’re not doing that, you just shouldn’t be in business anyway.
“But secondly, you need to see them as both a prospect whom you can add even more value to and a networking contact who can refer you more business.”
In fact, a referral from a client goes a lot longer than a referral from a non-client.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Swann said. “If I’m a client of Company X and I tell you you should hire Company X, you’re going to be more likely to do so then if I’m just some guy who’s heard of Company X and tells you you should hire Company X.”
But what does it take for a company to be good at nurturing and how can it do so effectively.
“A lot of it will sound like a broken record because we covered it in prospecting, sales and networking,” Swann said. “Apply those principles to nurturing, and you’ll do just fine.”
That said, a lot of companies fall into some common traps.
The first is being singularly focused on production.
“Many times, CEOs and companies assume doing a good job is enough,” Swann said. “This is akin to the ‘build-it-and-they-will-come marketing philosophy. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s a necessary first step, but that’s it.”
A client who is unhappy with results will quickly go somewhere else, but so, too, will a client who feels like they’re not being treated well.
“Think about it like your doctor,” Swann said. “If you go into your doctor with the flu and they’re super nice and friendly – ask you about your day and your symptoms and then give you a prescription that makes you feel even worse and doesn’t get rid of the flu, you’re probably not going to go back to that doctor.
“At the same time, if you go into your doctor with the flu and they call you a cry baby, loser and send you away with a prescription the cures your flu in an hour, you probably will start shopping around for another doctor, even though this one was effective.”
Secondly, companies assume that results and satisfaction are enough.
Companies will often send clients and customers Net Promoter Score surveys or something similar but then never actually do anything with them.
“Just like in sales and marketing, and anything else, you can’t expect people to be mind readers,” Swann said. “Tell your clients you want them to refer other people to you and incentivize them to do so with credits toward future projects.”
Finally, clients should feel like they have a partner, not a vendor.
“We’re in it together,” Swann said. “Our success is your success. If you’re not happy. We’re not happy. So honest communication is 100% key on both sides.
“And that takes a strong bond to be able to freely offer positive and negative feedback, but it is absolutely crucial to successful nurturing.”