Each Business Owner or C-Level Executive knows that outstanding relationships are an essential element and often the key to achieving your company’s goals. Sales Account Executives know this to be true, and they pride themselves on knowing how to manage relationships. Still, while this is widely recognized as a truth, very few C-Level Executives and Account Executives have made developing a repeatable methodology for building relationships a priority in their work. Taking a systematic approach to building a positive long-term relationship, founded on value, with every prospect and customer that you contact should be a high priority for you. If you do so, you will be able to build relationships that matter and that add value to each person you meet, and your territory or your company will become a source of trusted advisory for your customers for years to come.
Don’t Leave This To Chance: Too many business leaders and executives leave the business of developing our most important business relationships to chance. That is an easy error to recognize and one that deserves your top priority attention to fix. Invest in long-term relationships, the return will astonish you! Don’t trust this to your Sales Leader or their Sales Team, get out front and lead the effort to put customers first and become an available and visible executive sponsor, able to be scheduled for important customer meetings at any time.
Great Behavior Leads To Trust: Create trust with each prospective customer by displaying integrity in all that you do. To display integrity, you must be honest, share facts, follow through on ALL your commitments, deliver bad news early (and with a proposed solution whenever possible). Most of all, your word needs to be your bond. While written agreements have their place in business dealings, they should never be necessary to protect your clients from you. Your word or a handshake should be enough for any client to trust you will protect their interests.
Dig in And Understand Your Customer’s Business: Don’t wait for your customer to tell you what they need and want in their business. Be proactive, and dig deeply into their business objectives with them. Engage in some deep thought about what might be strategic in helping your customer, before they ask. Then get in front of them and tell them that you’ve come up with some ideas that you’d like to share with them about how you’d like to try to help them gain an advantage in their business. Once you’ve shared with them what you’ve come up with, ask them to tell you what THEY believe they need help with and find ways to go to work to help them to greater success. This is an excellent way to increase your value to them.
Select the Best Communication Methods: Develop additional communication dimensions. In the current day, social media and email are becoming dominant forms of communication. Don’t overlook the advantages of communicating via other media, like letters, thank you cards, meeting face to face, speaking via FaceTime/Skype/Cloud technologies or the telephone. Don’t hide behind email, and use all the colors on the palette by mixing up your communication media choices. There is no better way to meet and build trust than by meeting face to face. While that is not always possible or practical, it should be your default choice whenever possible.
Bring Humility To The Relationship: When you make a mistake, apologize immediately. Never give in to the temptation to justify or make excuses, or to blame some circumstance or some other person for your mistake. Own it, personally, and immediately focus on going the extra mile to recover from the mistake and to give the customer reasons to want to renew their commitment to doing business with you. IBM did a study many years ago that showed that a customer who has never had a problem with you, is LESS loyal than a customer who has seen you recover professionally from a problem and prioritize the customer appropriately in your response. Go the extra mile, and then some.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of techniques that you can employ to drive your relationships with your customers in a very positive direction, but I just wanted to get you thinking and moving in a positive direction. There are dozens of more great ideas that you could and should put to work in building relationships of extraordinary value with your prospects, customers, partners, co-workers and so on. Don’t just limit this to your customers, use the ideas every place you can think of! I hope you found this brief starter list a thought provoking one. Tell us about YOUR favorite technique to build relationships that are built to last, we’d love to hear from you. Add a comment here, and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a FREE copy of Michael’s Best Practices on Building Relationships That Matter. Most importantly, make up your mind that you’re going to do something differently this week to begin building business and personal relationships that are built to last a lifetime. Best of luck to you!