This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
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Your investors, employees and clients all have one thing in common: an emotional connection to your company. Investors can put their money in any number of different businesses. They chose yours because they want to see it succeed. The same is true of your team members — they’re on your side because of the trust and goodwill you’ve built.
What about your customers? According to a Harvard Business Review study, customers who are fully emotionally connected to a brand are, on average, 52 percent more valuable than those who are only highly satisfied. One way or another, your sales, talent and funding all trace back to the way people feel about your company. But how can you forge those connections quickly, authentically and at scale?
1. Be careful who you let in the door.
Your company has a distinct culture, which is largely why people identify with it in the first place. Although it’s tempting to embrace any investor, employee or client who wants on board, don’t. Not only is a poor fit unlikely to build an emotional connection with you, but it’s also liable to make good fits question why they’re attached to you.
When evaluating potential clients, attributes like industry matter less than purpose and strategy. Oxford Business School researchers have developed a four-quadrant tool for aligning your purpose, strategy and capabilities. Use it to evaluate potential clients. Are they rowing — or at least capable of rowing — in the direction you are? Look at your prospective teammates and investors the same way. Will they get along with your existing team, or can you already see trouble ahead?
2. Treat them like dinner guests.
Think about why you invite friends over for dinner. It’s a chance to unwind, express your affection and discuss something more than the weekend weather forecast. Although you can’t cook a five-star meal for every customer, you can leverage those same benefits in your most important business relationships.
Business lunches are already common, but bonding doesn’t happen when everyone is wearing suits and watching the clock. Use casual, family style dinners to create a homier atmosphere. To get customers to open up, companies like 7:47 have them prepare the meal together. Throughout the dinner, 7:47 encourages attendees to answer questions that encourage vulnerability. People may not remember what they ate, but they don’t forget the trust built by deep dinner conversation.
3. Get face time from afar.
If an in-person meal isn’t an option, go for the next best thing: a face-to-face conversation facilitated by technology. Communication outcomes are often dictated by unspoken cues, so rather than shoot an email or even pick up the phone, connect over video chat.
Which conversations are worth a video call? Candidate interviews certainly qualify, as do those with potential partners. Some, though perhaps not all, sales meetings justify seeing participants’s faces. If you can’t be there in person, all-hands meetings are a must to do via video. When it comes to employee terminations or investor pitches, though, make the trip for a true in-person experience.
4. Make every message more personal.
Some processes just can’t be conducted face to face. One reason email marketing is so popular, for example, is that most people who just downloaded a whitepaper aren’t ready for an in-person or even video-based salesperson meeting. Customers who ask questions on social media or call customer service probably aren’t interested, either.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s impossible to create an emotional connection. IT consultant Infosys claims 86 percent of customers will change their purchasing practices based on personalized advertisements alone. Simply addressing your user by name, providing tailored suggestions or mentioning one of his or her interests might be enough to close the sale. For top customers, send a letter. Sometimes, the format speaks for itself.
Surround yourself with the right people, and treat them like you want to be treated. Have them over for dinner. Fly out for those mission-critical conversations. You’ll be happier, and your stakeholders will be as well.