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Engaging The People Who Matter Most


Engaging The People Who Matter Most

20 February, 2022

We seem to have lost the art of patience, don’t you think? We want our online parcels delivered tomorrow; for free. We want web pages to appear instantaneous at the click of a button. We want to binge-watch new seasons of shows rather than wait a week for a new episode.

Even at work, new employees seem to want a raise and promotion six months into a job or they’ll leave, because “you are not a great leader”.

Sound familiar?

Capitalism (and Gordon Gekko) tell us that greed is good, and that ongoing growth can be sustained indefinitely. So we chase it. This, despite history (and science) teaching us otherwise – that nothing is permanent.

The same can be said for marketing and sales in a small business. We are greedy to force growth and expand organically, and we want to do it fast. But, unless you have some super-scalable product or you go down the path of acquisition, is that even possible?

Chasing Rainbows

What if slower and steadier does win the race? What if we could nurture the clients we have, reduce our rate of attrition and attract new clients to the fold. Surely that would lead to a more sustainable business model which incorporates growth?

In terms of making sales, you obviously need to attract a stream of new clients to nurture. But, you also have your existing clients to up-sell to as trust builds.

And here’s where opportunities get wasted.

We focus so much time, effort and money trying to bag the new fish that we start ignoring the ones we have, right to the point where someone else starts courting them. Then we get almost offended that their head has been turned.

Customer Relationship Management

I quite like meeting new people. But, I’ve always been pretty terrible with names. Someone could introduce themselves to me and by the end of the sentence, I’ll find myself scrabbling around for the one or two words in my brain that I’ve just been given. So thank heavens for technology!

I’ve worked with databases and my own data for many years and I’ve always loved it. Collating and segmenting groups of like-minded people; capturing interests so that I can deliver relevant content; measuring customer order patterns so that I can suggest new purchases and lead times. Yes, having good data to hand allows me to offer value to the relationship.

More recently, I’ve been working on some of my clients’ data in more depth. It’s fascinating being let in and I always find it enlightening to see how much data companies have that is not ‘worked’; and, how much is collected which is not relevant.

I’m currently working with one company where we integrated Hubspot CRM into the marketing mix at the early stages of the project in 2021. Less than 12 months later it’s really starting to create a picture of relationships and relevance. Not just who people are, but locations, industries, events, interests and conversations.

Over time, good data matures, it becomes more valuable. Pictures emerge of where energy is spent (and misspent) – that person you thought was a great contact may be a drain on resources; that wallflower client, well they have actually referred you several times.

Another client I work with has gold dust in terms of a customer database, which we have just started working with. They have customers that have bought into the business (the brand) but have never really been engaged with. So, we have started talking to them, giving them more of what they need in terms of interaction – it’s a simple start that can develop and, if we get it right, strengthen relations.

All Together Now

It’s essential for businesses to capture good data and it’s an asset that should be owned by the company, not by any one individual.

So, it’s important to understand what you want to capture (and why) and then ensure a process is followed. You need to make sure your team know why they are doing what they do when they collect data – preferably through demonstration rather than edict.

  • Make it easy to do, codifying the process if necessary.
  • Enforce good data collection.
  • Demonstrate and share successes of the system in action.

If nothing else this protects your business because you end up with better data and remove that oh-so-often awkward situation where a salesperson has ‘client insight’ in their head and then leaves the business taking it with them.

You must take ownership. You must communicate with your team. You must ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Plan and Process

The focus, therefore, needs to be on having an overall strategy of why you are collecting what you collect and knowing what you are going to do with any data when you get it. Yes, there are all sorts of compliance issues involved, but the opportunity good data offers in terms of creating sustainable relationships is worth the cost. And, it’s much, much cheaper than new client acquisition.

If someone told you that you could have the ultimate client database, you’d snap their hand off. The funny thing is, you have the power to do that and it’s not that hard, even if you are ruthless with what you have and start again from scratch.

So, engage:


Data, of itself, offers no value. It’s only when you start joining the dots that it becomes powerful. Amazon did this crudely in the early days with “other customers who bought this product, also bought this”, which has evolved into powerful algorithms that create millions more in sales each year.

While you will probably never need to be that sophisticated, it’s essential to use the systems you have to their full potential, which needs buy-in from your team to maximise efficiency. If they aren’t all on board with the process and the results, you will be doomed to failure.


What do your clients expect/want from their relationship with you? Don’t second guess that anyone cares about your business or your latest case study or white paper. Talk to them and measure responses. After all, it’s only worth collecting information that offers value for a mutually beneficial relationship between you and them.

To summarise, any small business can sign up for free software and collect data, but as any good sales and marketing person will know, it ain’t what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts.

It’s also true, that quality is so much better than quantity, so don’t be afraid to start from scratch and build on solid foundations.

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