Business relationships are just like any other relationships … they need to be nurtured, they need investment and they need a level of commitment.
Clients WILL buy from people they trust, and you do not achieve trust without establishing some kind of relationship.
In almost any business relationship there will come times of stress … where the parties need to fix something, or renegotiate something or have tough conversations. These situations are always easier if there is a good relationship and a level of trust.
Salespeople and business owners work hard to develop these business relationships and clients invest their time and energy in them too. There are many ways that they evolve and grow, but here are some ideas:
Make promises and always deliver (over deliver if at all possible). This does not have to be hard it could be as simple as committing to send an interesting article by the weekend and doing it the minute you get back to your desk (but never forgetting to send it)!
Meet face to face. The phone is good, email is a good way to share some stuff but face to face is how you get to know people and they get to know you.
Be truly interested in the other person.
Find ways to bring additional value. Share interesting articles, data, information, market knowledge for example.
Have regular contact … without wasting anyone’s time. (Touching base is a lazy approach … you should have a valid business reason, and ideally an agenda for a meeting!)
Never waste their time.
Be positive … keep your own negatives to yourself!
Listen more than you talk.
All large client organisations have valid governance concerns about undue influence of their buyers, so be mindful of these.
It always helps a relationship to have some meetings under more informal settings. Breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks after work or even a game of golf (even though I hate golf) can help people get to know each other better. (Be mindful of #9 above).
Every business relationship will hit a bump in the road at some point, and if you don’t have a relationship built on trust and credibility, beyond the terms of a contract then that bump may feel like a mountain!
“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.” Robin Sharma
Invest in those business relationships!