Star Wars 101: Do or not do for relationship building (there is no try)

relationship building

If you’re a “Star Wars” fan (or if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past four decades) you understand something of how the Force can get into people’s minds for the purposes of good or evil.

The omnipresent energy field may be only in a galaxy far, far away. But in honor of May 4 (Star Wars Day), we present-day earthlings can still extract lessons from it for use in our customer relationship marketing. Assuming you’re part of the Rebel Alliance (the good guys), you may use these tips to foster relationships and create the repeat customers who bring maximum value to your business.

May the Force be with you, but use it wisely: a Jedi uses it only for knowledge and defense.

  • Listen before blathering. As Yoda once advised Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Do not assume anything. Clear your mind must be.” For marketers that means paying attention to what prospects are telling you, both verbally and nonverbally. Customers are more likely to trust you and be open to your messages when you get them talking about themselves, conveying genuine interest in their lives, opinions, experiences and problems.
  • Intuit customers’ motives. Channel Luke Skywalker when he saw into Darth Vader’s thoughts during their epic battle. The sooner you understand customer pain points and circumstances, the more quickly you can adjust your sales strategy.
  • Know when to strike. Just as the Rebel Alliance was highly strategic in its attacks, so must you understand when a customer is ready to buy. Verbal cues include increased questions about product details, delivery or payment options. In-person cues include a relaxed demeanor; increased eye contact; a leaning-forward stance; uncrossed limbs; head nodding and/or the studying of a price tag or contract. You should also interpret quickly whether a customer is responding to your selling methods, perhaps falling back on product benefits rather than lunging for the immediate sale.
  • Form alliances. Like Han Solo and company teamed with the Ewoks on Endor to fight the Galactic Empire, so must you strive to position yourself as a customer partner. Help your customer solve his problems instead of being perceived as just another threat to his wallet.
  • Follow Yoda’s example by using information wisely. For example, keep the content on your website and social media outlets compelling, current and relevant to keep customers interested in your brand. Building relationships means positioning yourself as an authority in your field via information that is both wanted and needed. With its timed film releases over the course of 39 years, the “Star Wars” franchise is an exceptional example of such long-term strategic brand building.

Nurturing relationships can be time consuming, but it pays off: research shows the average revenue per visit for online sales increases exponentially with each repeat visit. And repeat customers represent 41 percent of the total online revenue in the U.S.

As Yoda tells us, sometimes you must forego the immediate gratification of a quick sale and “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”