For-profit businesses are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from competitors. One of the main ways they are trying to do this is by figuring out a way to interact with potential customers and current consumers differently.
We all know that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, but this is often how businesses operate when it comes to sales and marketing. I propose that for-profit businesses look to the nonprofit sector, which often rely, and have nearly perfected the art of transformative relationships, as their muse.
This will allow for-profits to come up with creative ways on how to refresh the way that they interact, recruit and retain customers.
The nonprofit world has to think differently in the way that they curate relationships and interact with the person, not the sales pitch, in order to project critical revenue coming into their organizations.
For-profits, take note!
1. Develop transformative rather than transactional relationships
If the only time you contact your customers is to ask them to buy something, they’re going to stop picking up the phone and quit opening their emails. If you are a nonprofit, you have to be genuinely interested in why a person donates to you, as your ability to customize the message and match a supporter’s passion with a program is critical. Similarly, for-profits should be genuinely interested in why a customer is a customer.
Furthermore, you need to be asking better questions, developing loyalty to the brand, telling stories of success and celebrating wins with them, all without constantly asking them for the sale.
If everything was based on price, good luck. Amazon will always win. Walmart will always win. You have to do something above and beyond.
If I’m a hardware store, I need to know my customer that is coming in. I need to know what projects they are working on, what big hairy audacious goals they have for renovating, or what chronically needs fixing. I need to be genuinely concerned, not necessarily about selling them the best item, solving the problem they have.
Nonprofits solve the need of individuals to make a difference in the world. What’s your transformative fix for your customers?
2. Follow Up
A lot of businesses will get a business deal done, and then that’s the last they’ll talk to that customer… until they need to sell something else.
But what if your absence in communication and lack of follow up results in a loss of a customer? How much money and energy does it take to get them back?
So why wouldn’t you spend the time, energy and effort on retaining them? Follow up and ask how a project goes. Find out what other things they have on the horizon. Find out what they thought about the experience with you. Find out what you were able to help solve.
Eventually, they will start coming to you for advice. Even though they might not buy from you right away, you’re beginning to build a better relationship with them for the long run.
Again, same thing with the nonprofit sector. If you know your donors on a more intimate level; you know how many kids they have, you know they like to go on vacations, you know that they are very into education, you can now cater your solicitations to projects they want to support and champion.
Take a page from Netflix. They know you better than anyone else on the planet.
If you scroll through Netflix and you click on something that they suggest you’d like to watch, there’s a 99.9% chance that you’re going to love it. Their algorithm is paying attention the way you need to understand your customers.
If a streaming network and nonprofit community are connecting the dots – your business better be doing so too.
3. If someone, truly, isn’t into what you’re selling, don’t sell them on it.
It’s okay to not have a connection with somebody. Seriously.
Really good nonprofits have an abundance mindset, knowing that there are tons of people throughout the region they can reach out to that would connect emotionally to their story of impact.
But sometimes, a person just doesn’t
Rather than bemoaning the fact you lost a potential donor (or customer in your case!) see this as an opportunity to focus on those better suited and more ideally matched to your mission or product.
If they’re not into your mission or organization, you sure could high-pressure sell them on a gift, but at the end of the process, the potential donor is not going to feel great about it. They’re probably not going to interact willingly with you again, or even worse, tell others about what a bad experience they had with the interaction.\
If you’re a business, you need to realize that there are a ton of customers out there and that one person not being interested in your product is sometimes a good thing. It frees up time to sell to somebody who is interested in what you have to offer, enjoys your products and services, and frankly makes the process of selling much more enjoyable.
4. Show Random Appreciation
Here’s a fun fact: If a nonprofit doesn’t say thank you for a gift, they probably won’t get another.
It’s critical to show appreciation for a gift, whatever the size, as it acknowledges that all donations help in strengthening the mission of the organization.
However, the nonprofits that thank donors for things other than money, or show appreciation for their talents and perspective rather than just their treasure, are going to build deeper, stronger and longer termed relationships.
Why can’t the for profit business do that as well?
Random, handwritten notes of appreciation for just being a customer, without asking for something, or expecting a sale, goes a long way.
The time spent retaining the loyalty of those who are a part of your business’s family, is well worth it. And showcasing your genuine gratitude for their trust and money, is an attractive quality that customers brag about to their network
Pretty easy organic marketing if you ask me.
Although it seems that a lot of nonprofits could take tips and tricks from the for-profit business space, it turns out we should flip the script.
Organizations that rely on building, holding on to, and investing heavily in relationships for their financial independence to serve the community are the perfect institutions to mirror sales and marketing tactics.
If rising above the competition, and being recognized as a business who cares more about the customer relationship than treating them like an ATM, you might find an incredible organic marketing plan that attracts the perfect type of buyers, the way nonprofits attract the perfect type of donors.