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4 Ways to Build Customer Relationships Virtually

Connecting with clients online for the win

So many things we used to rely on for building customer relationships—trade shows, live events, going out for lunch—are no longer an option for many businesses. Although most states are open for business, consumer sentiment (a gauge of how buyers feel about spending and getting “back to normal”) is falling. Economists report consumer sentiment declined 3% between June and July—as coronavirus cases surged. Most of us are just not ready to return to the spending or getting out and about of pre-COVID days.

If door-knocking and handshaking have been taken out of your sales toolbox, it’s time to take action. We have a few techniques to build customer relationships online so you keep leads flowing into your sales funnel.

1. Virtual conversations

Just because you can’t take your client to a game or go out to lunch doesn’t mean connecting with clients won’t be fun. Buy local takeout for your client and get together for a virtual lunch or happy hour. Or, as major league baseball and other sports return, invite customers to watch online together—you send the snacks and beverages.

Remember to treat your meeting the same as if you’re face-to-face. Dress the part—whatever that means for you. Start with casual conversations to build rapport. Make sure your camera is at a good angle so that your customer isn’t distracted by whatever is behind you—unless it’ll make for a good conversation starter!

2. Live chat services

As you think of ways to convert outside sales to inside sales, consider live chat and web demos. Chats initiated by customers have increased 45% since the pandemic, putting it in the “must-have” marketing bucket. If you don’t already have live chat on your website or use a live chat sales software, adding it in can help customers feel connected and supported when they can’t see you in person. A live chat helps customers instantly get questions and concerns addressed. 

And this doesn’t just apply to your existing customers. Companies that respond to a lead in 10 minutes compared to five see a 400% decrease in the odds of qualifying that lead.

When using live chat, try not to be the face behind the virtual curtain. Including a webcam in your sales pitch is now table stakes. According to the latest research, using one increases the chance of closing the deal by 41%.

3. Go out of your way to be helpful

Think about how you can go above and beyond to help your customers, especially those hit hardest by the pandemic. Maybe you can offer a value add at no extra charge or host a giveaway for one free consulting call.

Is there a knowledge gap you can fill with industry news or educational information? Fifty-four percent of consumers want to see more video content from a business they support. Now is a prime opportunity to engage your audience with educational, informative video.

4. Get on your A-game in social media

With or without a pandemic, 76% of people are more likely to buy from a brand they feel connected to on social media than a competitor. Listen carefully to what customers are saying in the comments. (Pro tip: Spy on competitors’ social media to learn their customers’ pain points. Using the information you glean, make an extra effort to talk with customers and prospects.)

Update your social media pages at peak times. For example, Sprout Social® found that with more people working from home, the best times to post on Facebook® are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Keep in mind you don’t always have to talk about company-related news. Feature team members and talk about their pets or hobbies in addition to what they do. Customers want to interact with people—not a company.

Even though many of our “normal” ways of connecting with clients have been put on hold, there are still multiple ways to stay top of mind virtually. Wondering what the best plan of action for building customer relationships looks like for you? Let’s talk!

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