Sales and marketing planning usually includes one communication strategy for prospective clients and another for existing clients. We document all of the ways we will reach them and when we'll do it, and everything is carefully orchestrated to achieve business growth and revenue goals.
Yet all too often, we forget to consider how we will build and nurture relationships, when good business relationships play a huge part in helping us achieve those goals.
In tough economic times, or when competitors offer similar products or services at lower prices, your relationship may be the single deciding factor in why they choose you.
So... what makes a good business relationship?
I think it's pretty simple; I believe it's all about respect and trust, and a couple of surefire ways to earn those are to make sure that you are true to your word, and to not waste their time.
Being honest is obvious and that should be a minimum standard for all relationships, business or otherwise.
However, when you're under the pump yourself, it can be easy to forget that they're busy too and that every contact you make, needs to be worth their while. Whether it's on the plan or not, if you don't have anything of value to talk to them about, don't waste their time. Make sure that every visit, email and phone call you make adds value to your client.
Good relationships are built on honesty and authenticity. Get to know your client properly; dig deep and seek to genuinely understand their business challenges and objectives. It's even better if you can get to know them on a somewhat personal level as well.
Under-promising and over-delivering is the only way to go. If something does go wrong, call them, apologise and fix it, or if you feel they are unhappy about something, ask what's wrong and give your client a safe space to tell you about it.
And don't forget to show appreciation any time they do something for you. From a simple thank you phone call to surprising them by popping in with a coffee or a small gift, a little bit of appreciation goes a long way towards building great relationships.
Author: Pip Mehrtens | May 2020