Strong relationships are the fuel that feeds the success of any business, even more so if you have a small business. And whilst that might seem obvious, so many business owners get caught up in the details of their products or services and forget how critical it is to build relationships, not just with your customers but with your vendors and employees too.
Without strong relationships, you will find that customers are fast to leave you because they are able to get a lower price or they have recently built a better relationship with one of your competitors – that they perceive care about them more.
The reality is… business relationships are just like any other relationship – they require time, effort and should be mutually beneficial. And the trick to relationships – building ones that last.
When it comes to finding the relationships that last, think of back when you were a child and used to play with puzzles. Some pieces fit together really beautifully, some you could sort of make fit and some just didn’t (no matter how hard you tried). The ones that do fit perfectly formed a solid foundation that resulted in your overall success.
So, what’s the most important ingredient to building a strong business relationship?
When it comes to any kind of relationship, the key to making it work is trust. In business relationships, there must be a strong trust factor – everyone needs to know they can rely on the other to do what they promise to do (and preferably without histrionics and angst along the way).
Without trust, clients (and suppliers) will be unwilling to pursue a relationship with you.
5 Tips to Build Better Business Relationships
1. Be Open and Honest
Just like personal relationships, trust and honesty is the key to establishing long-term relationships. An open, honest relationship usually comes with solid communication and honest feedback. Ask your clients for feedback, actively encourage constructive criticism (ask them what they’d change to make the outcome better) and seek ways to improve your service. Sometimes the feedback could be tough to hear, but better they tell you – than someone else.
2. Do Your Research
Learn as much as you can before you try to connect or build any sort of relationship with a client or potential partner. Learn about their values, what their long-term interests are and what they need or want. These days there’s so much information available online, make sure you make the best use of it. Once you’ve crafted all the research, use it to tailor your message or product to their needs and show you’ve at least had a go at understanding their potential needs.
3. Listen More Than You Talk
Your job is to anticipate your clients needs. But you also have to be able to listen well – because sometimes what your client really needs help with is something out of the blue that you’d never think of.
4. Stay True to Your Values
If you live your values in everything you do, it will build more trust and rapport in the relationship. Let people see who you really are not just as a business professional but as an individual. This will make the relationship personal and well… real. No business relationship is ever really ‘just business’.
5. Go the Extra Mile
The trick to developing a strong relationship is all about making your client feel like they’re number one. How do you do that? By going the extra mile! Whether it be a special birthday card, choccies, champagne to celebrate a big win or a handwritten letter (there are so many ways to do this). Always make a big deal of them and make it personal.
The Easiest Way to Make a Difference and Build a Relationship?
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What are you looking for in a B2B relationship? What values do you stand for and want to see in a business you want to work with?
If we can help you gain extra time to build search for and build some long-term business relationships, by taking on your dreaded admin tasks or answering your phone, we’d love to talk to you. You can call us on 9994 8000 or drop us a note.