Required Reading: Ensuring Success Is in Your Sphere

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If you want to leverage relationships to achieve business goals, it’s more effective to focus on those relationships that are most valuable rather than on increasing the size of your network. That’s the premise of Success Is in Your Sphere, which asserts that professional relationships are an organization’s most valuable asset. With this in mind, the book introduces the “CAPITAL” strategy of relationship building. Associate Editor Sam Del Rowe spoke with author Zvi Band, cofounder and CEO of Contactually, to find out more.

CRM magazine: How did you come up with the CAPITAL relationship-building strategy?

Zvi Band: An effective strategy needs to incorporate people to execute, tools to leverage, and processes to follow. In our seven and a half years of building Contactually, one of the constant headwinds we faced was the absence of a fundamental understanding of what to do to nurture relationships. Relationship marketing is not something that is commonly taught in any formal education environment. After watching our best partners, and in thousands of interviews and discussions over the years, the CAPITAL strategy came together as a useful framework.

What are the components of the CAPITAL strategy?

Consistency: Relationship building pays dividends in the long term, but we often struggle to optimize for anything other than short-term gains. Being intentional around acting repeatedly, regardless of short-term outcomes, is fundamental.

Aggregate: Remember when you could track everyone you know in a Rolodex by the phone? Where we communicate and who we communicate with is now scattered among dozens of digital and physical channels. It’s important to get a single authoritative source of everyone you know or have known, regardless of relevancy.

Prioritize: We tend to bring order to chaos by organizing people into groups with common traits. The best way to focus your limited time and resources, however, is to clearly state your relationship goals and then identify the types of contacts that will best contribute to them.

Investigate: There is more information available now about us and our contacts than ever before, but we must learn how to harness that to build relationships. This includes the small talk in a conversation, doing online research, and referencing the social objects that help bridge the gap between pure transactions and personal connections.

Timely engagement: To combat the time decay of memory, and therefore relationships, we have to be able to identify cadences or specific triggers that would cause us to engage, while still being perceived as authentic.

Adding value: No one likes to be “followed up” with, so why would we treat it as that? We all seek valuable personal connections, and the more we are willing to invest (not just monetarily), the more we can increase mindshare.

Leverage: To increase our effectiveness and likelihood of staying consistent, we should seek methods to make it easier to execute. Whether it’s investing in tools (better CRMs), processes (stored email templates), or people (virtual assistants), making relationship marketing more efficient will pay off over the long term.

Can you provide some examples of businesses that are seeing success with this kind of relationship building?

You need look no further than your local realtor. Real estate agents provide a high-touch, complex service to their clients as they navigate some of the biggest financial transactions of their lives. It’s also highly commoditized; it’s hard for a homeowner to understand the difference between two agents. An agent’s best competitive advantage is the strength and breadth of relationships, and buyers/sellers rely on a mutual connection to identify which one to use.

What are some mistakes that businesses make in relationship building?

One is mistaking the relationship between the customer and the business and the customer and the person. Relationship marketing is centered on the one-on-one relationship between two people, which requires companies to emphasize the personal and authentic nature of the outreach rather than their own branding.

Another is failing to recognize that relationship building is something that has paid dividends over a long time frame but may yield little in the short term. Having a long-term mind-set is critical to long-term success.

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