2015: The Year To Build Online Relationships – Or Risk Not Seeing 2016

Success in channel sales is amplified by one crucial factor; the strength of your relationship with your customer or prospect.
Success in channel sales is amplified by the strength of your prospect & customer relationships

If the science of selling is founded on the age-old art of establishing a relationship, how can channel partners build these in an increasingly digital purchasing world?

Knowing me, knowing you

Success in channel sales is amplified by one crucial factor; the strength of your relationship with your customer or prospect.  In the physical world, sales people work hard to ensure relationships are in place and work for them – we meet face to face, we call people, and we network. But in an increasingly crowded digital world how can you build relationships and demonstrate personality online?

I believe that 2015 represents a critical tipping point for the channel community to get this right.  Succeed and you are looking at a good year.  Fail and you may not get another year!

Getting it right

So what does ‘getting it right’ mean?  In essence, you can only build relationships online by saying something your customers find interesting which results in some form of engagement that leads to a sale.

How TonerGiant tackles this challenge

One organization that has succeeded at this is Manchester-based printing and office supplier, TonerGiant.  They attribute their success by placing equal importance on building strong relationships with customers and prospects both on- and off- line.

I recently spoke to Stuart Deavall, TonerGiant’s Digital Marketing Manager, about this strategy.  “We focused on one key area: personalization of all customer communication.  This investment in personalization has ensured we built one-on-one relationships despite operating within a predominantly online environment.”

Can you hear me?

But building relationships and getting noticed online is going to get far harder in 2015 due to the exploding volume of web content.  Some fairly scary growth figures are given in this Forbes article, The alarming rise of digital and content pollution, but it also provides some advice on how to stand out from the crowd:

Offline knowledge translates into online relevance

In the battle for attention and the chance to build relationships, your website and other online content has to earn the right to be noticed.  For that to happen, it has to truly appeal to those who are reading it.

Back to Stuart’s point: appealing to your audience is only possible by listening to what your customers and prospects are really interested in and then delivering a personalized message to meet their needs.

Stuart’s top tips on building online relationships

Put a face to the name

In an online environment it’s important to show your customers a ‘face’: from employee photographs on email signatures to a team profile online, show your customers who you are and there’s a person on the other side of the screen

Capture customer data

Build an effective customer database that gives you a platform to record all customer feedback in one place quickly and easily. Whether it’s an email, a live chat transcript or even a telephone conversation, having access to all the information will ensure a more personal future dialogue

Empower your sales team

Build a team that truly cares about your customers and empower them to make decisions to go above and beyond when they have to. Give them everything they need to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one!

Personalise and target

Personalise your email marketing campaigns and send highly targeted offers. At TonerGiant, this approach has increased conversion rates from a typical 40-45% to an unprecedented 60%

Align customer communication to purchase patterns

Send out targeted and precision timed emails to customers based around their purchase patterns (data analysis is key here).  Again, the conversion rate for TonerGiant grew to 25% as opposed to the usual 2-3%

It starts with listening

In summary 2015 can be a great year for transforming your ability to use digital channels to drive and build relationships with customers.  But doing so will only happen if you listen to the needs of your audience and personalise your message accordingly.  Crack this and you’ll be well on the way to perfecting the art of establishing valuable online relationships!

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About TonerGiant

TonerGiantLaunched in 2006, TonerGiant.co.uk supplies ink and toner cartridges, printers and office stationery to home users, businesses and local authorities across the UK. The company was shortlisted for two awards in 2014, including Medium eCommerce Retailer of the Year at the eCommerce Awards for Excellence and are located in Atherton, Greater Manchester.

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