I once read that growing a business relationship is like trying to hold onto sand as it slips between your fingers. Research shows only 5% of corporations focus on advancing business relationships as a key business strategy. Successful business has always been driven by people and relationships. Relationships develop into partnerships, and a successful partnership allows both parties to work together toward everyone’s success.
Think about the relationships you have in your professional life. You may have relationships with customers, industry professionals, vendors and co-workers. Now think about your most personal relationships. Do you focus differently on the commitments needed to maintain your personal relationships versus your professional relationships? If so, why are they so different?
To build a professional relationship that leads to successful results, you need to take a similar approach as you would for a personal relationship. Focus on these key areas and make the most out of your business relationships.
Don’t leave the relationship to chance:
Building a successful relationship is a systematic approach that starts with an understanding of where you and the other person sits today, as well as sharing each other’s goals and objectives that will lead to a better tomorrow. It starts with a strong foundation of trust, which allows everyone to build a strong frame of a partnership and drives your relationship to being the best of the best. Trust is a key element to developing any relationship. In the example of a vendor-client relationship, when both parties trust each other and are working toward common goals, you diminish the vendor-client relationship and transform your relationship to a partnership, where both parties are seen as trusted advisors ,working together to achieve greater results.
Listen carefully, what do you hear?
Listening to what our other people say, or sometimes do not say, is an indication of just how well you are doing with building a successful and prosperous partnership. The unspoken word speaks louder than praise. You hear it when someone tells you they are not satisfied, but what happens when you don’t hear anything? According to the book, “Raving Fans”, silence is usually not a good thing in any partnership. Even though some conversations may be difficult to have, it is better to seek a resolution to issues than to maintain silence. From the vendor standpoint, if a customer is not seeking your opinion, that is an indication of the unspoken and lack of credibility as a partner. Those unspoken words point at a customer’s lack of trust, leading to you not being considered a credible advisor.
Remember how you like to be treated:
Think about the last time you walked into a business and received terrible service. Is that what you had come to expect from this establishment? Had you accepted that they just can’t do better? Now think of the last time you received exceptional service. Was it your server at a restaurant or maybe a very helpful sales associate? Whatever it was, it was someone who invested their time with you to make it memorable. It was more than just their job, it was a relationship that even for an instance started with a feeling of trust and although short, you remember it and want more of it. Think about how you are treated by those partnerships that you see are most successful. Build your relationships the same way.
Empower those that can make a difference:
Everyone that a partnership touches is important and relationship must be forged at all levels. Business partnerships are most successful when multiple relationships are formed and empower each point of contact to build their own relationships with those they touch on a regular basis.
Within the LPI organization, supporting our clients’ field loss prevention support begins with our field team building the foundation with store management, moving up through district/regional management, all the way to the senior members of the organization. As they build the partnership from the bottom of a client organization, our client services team is applying a top down approach with senior field personnel and corporate level relationships. When the two approaches merge successfully, a solid partnership takes shape. The relationship is on its way to a long and successful journey.
Maintaining the relationship and trust must never be taken for granted, but achieving a prosperous relationship is the hardest part. Maintaining it means you are dedicated to deliver plus one service and is what a good partnership should strive for each and every day.
How do you build successful partnerships with your relationships?
What do you think are the most important parts of a client-vendor relationship?
Written by Bill Angiolillo, Director of Client Services