There are so many ways for business-to-business (B2B) marketers and sales organisations to find and stay in touch with customers online. For example, social media platforms like Twitter, Google+ hangouts, Facebook conversations, LinkedIn Groups and many more.
But if you’re not using social networking tools to meet potential customers in-person, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build long-lasting relationships.
Here are four reasons why you should meet with your social media connections face-to-face:
People buy from those they know and trust
Meeting in-person gives your prospective customers an opportunity to get to know your true personality. So, what are you waiting for?
Send an invitation out to people with whom you’ve built an online rapport, via direct message on Twitter or Facebook, and ask them for coffee. Or, if they live in another city or are too busy, consider a face-to-face video chat using free tools like Skype, Google+ Hangouts, Apple’s Facetime or Facebook Video Chat.
There is really no excuse not to use these free face-to-face meeting tools!
Your industry passion is contagious
Meeting your social media contacts in-person for the first time shouldn’t translate into a hard-core sales pitch. Instead, use the opportunity to show your enthusiasm and industry expertise.
To prepare for your meeting, make sure to research and understand your customers’ needs and challenges, then be prepared to share relevant and interesting news stories or factoids.
The goal is to convince your contacts that you are a go-to resource for their future needs and questions.
Understand your customers’ pain points without the limitations of 140 character questions and answers
Use your first meeting as a way to learn about what interests your potential customers, and what common likes and dislikes you both share. It’s just like a first date, so make sure to ask them lots of questions!
This will open the door to future conversations, where you can follow-up and send your customer relevant news stories, videos and trends online.
The more you share valuable tips and insights with your clients, the more they’ll trust that you can help them with their business.
Create a lasting impression
One of the keys to building a good business relationship is helping your customers put a face to your name.
This means more than just posting your photo on your Twitter or LinkedIn profile. You also need to shake your customer’s hand and get to know them one-on-one.
Making an in-person connection will ensure you are top of mind the next time your customer needs help from someone with your expertise.
Remember that above all else, it’s important to just be yourself – whether you’re meeting customers online or in-person. But be patient, as good client relationships take time to ignite and flourish.
Show them your energy and love for what you do and they’ll be excited about the prospect of working with you!
A version of this post was originally published on the Jugnoo blogin May 2012 and has been republished with permission. Image source: iStockPhoto.com.