What better day to mull the topic of relationships than today? After all, the masses (and, you and me) have been at it all week, conjuring up the perfect plan to show their significant other that he/she is special, and taking extra care not to overlook any hidden expectations.
I’m trusting you’ve got that one in the bag, but what about your business relationships? Have you taken stock lately of what you could be doing more of to convey appreciation and commitment to your existing customers/clients, as well as lay the foundation for strong ties with those you’ve interacted with recently? And, are you putting in the time to learn about these new acquaintances, rather than leaping in after the first couple of meetings with a request to sign on the dotted line?
Just like a friendship or lasting romance, building a business relationship doesn’t happen in a single meeting or communication. It can take months, even years before you win enough trust for that person or company to spend money with you. And, for those relationships that you already have, you won’t be able to rely on coveted word of mouth marketing (one of the best tools in your toolbox) if you’re not delivering on service or quality. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that people are more prone to refer your services if they feel valued by your company. The same is true for vendors. If you’re taking good care of them, chances are, they’ll pay it forward.
There is a lot of good advice out there on how to improve your relationship skills. One that I enjoyed, especially as a mother (the author’s lessons are based upon what her children taught her), is this throwback to “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I suspect you’ll both enjoy and find value in it.
Here a little more advice for improving your relationship skills, served up in digestible bullets:
- The fastest way to earn trust, is to make others feel important and express genuine concern over the issues/challenges they face. And, by demonstrating that you have their, not your, best interest in mind.
- Confident people attract others; egotistical people do not.
- Avoid succumbing to self-serving motives and strive to be helpful in an earnest way.
- Shut up and LISTEN.
- Validate others’ opinions.
- Admit when you’re wrong.
- Be generous with praise when deserved.
- Say “thank you.”
- Never lose the humanistic side of sales.
- Be responsive to your clients and vendors; follow up with them as soon as possible.
- Refer and introduce your client’s services to others when appropriate. This will show that you care about the success of their business, not just your sale.
- Be personal and funny in conversation, but don’t forget to retain decorum and respect.
- Put in the facetime: Despite the perception that all business is conducted via computer, clients and customers still want to see the recipient of their checks once in awhile.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have made it easier than ever to keep in touch, elevating social media’s merits as a must-use tool for building and maintaining solid, mutually beneficial relationships—and for turning new relationships into business. Yesterday I shared this post by @GlenGilmore, which instead of being inspired by children, is inspired by, well, what we are celebrating today: LOVE.
The tie-in to all of the above, is that social media, at its core, is about building relationships.
Ultimately, it all comes down to this:
“Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner.”
—Michael Denisoff, founder/CEO of Denisoff Consulting Group, Redondo Beach, California
The saying goes one will do business with only those they know, trust and like. I am fascinated in how people network and those who jump in aggressively to try to get the sale usually don’t get my business. But if they establish a relationship with me first I am more likely to refer and even do business with them when the time is ready..