CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – You may not recognize it, you may not even believe it, but all successful businesses—small and grand—have one thing in common. Regardless of what they do, offer, or sell; the owners and team of a successful business know how to build and maintain relationships.
Unfortunately, the truth is that entrepreneurs, much too often, get caught up in the details of strategies: the techniques, the tactics, the kind of products and services they are selling; to the extent that they forget how critical and substantial it is to build relationships. Building business relationships isn’t limited to your customers, you must develop relationships with your employees and your competitors as well.
Relationships: The Building Blocks of Your Business
My name Samareh Lilith Rahnavardi. My coaching clients and friends call me Coach Sam. I’m a positive psychology coach practitioner, Dermatini method facilitator, entrepreneur and public speaker. Today the hot topic on the “Powered by Sam” column is Relationships for business.
I am a very firm believer that without strong relationships, it is impossible to have a successful business, or achieve any fulfillment as a business owner.
It’s a wise and integral business move to build long-term and fulfilling relationships with your customers. These types of relationships will support your business through challenging times. It is also a wiser move to build trusting relationships with other business owners; this gives you the privilege of sharing struggles, and resources when necessary.
A Happy Client Equals A Successful Business
In the past thirteen years of my experience in running a truly successful business, I have come to learn the advantages of keeping strong relationships between yourself and your client. It is a key element, so much that I believe if you keep an existing client happy and satisfied, you have come a long way closer to success than if you were to keep attracting new clients, just to meet their needs halfway through.
The reality is that business relationships are very similar to personal relationships. They require some effort to maintain, and they must be mutually beneficial. Your customer wants to feel special and cared for, that is the primary feature your service can offer. If you can master the art of relationship in your business and in the workplace, you have already scored big time.
Think of a Business Relationship as a Personal Relationship
As in any relationship, you must be willing to give, share, and support; not just take and receive. Knowing the value, need, and suffering of your client and attempting to find ways to implement those values, is one of the secrets of building a successful business.
Every human being abides by a set of values which they consciously—or unconsciously—try to live according to. When a person feels that a product or service is going to help them get closer to their values, that’s when they start to develop keenness and interest, therefore becoming a potential client. That’s where you come in as a business owner and offer them the correct information on how your product or service can be beneficial to them, to their values, and to their needs.
This takes us to one of the most important pillars of a great relationship; and that is the art of communication.
When an individual cares enough to learn the mastery of relationships, that individual finds the golden key to create a successful and inspiring business, and life. Both are achievements that bring a sense of fulfillment for the self and others. When you help people get what they want, they help you get what you want in return; a two-way street and a win-win situation for your business.
Always remember that it is important to work on building business relationships as much as it is important to build business skills and strategies.
Having said that, here are the five most important tips of a long list of others. These tips will help guide you to build stronger business relationships that will last:
• Encourage Honest Feedback
An open, honest relationship demands transparency and clear communication. Encourage and be open to constructive criticism. Be bold enough to suggest ways in which clients can help your firm perform better. If you know where you stand, you can work on strengthening your ground.
• Give More than You Receive
Contact your clients when you are NOT in need of something. It is wise to take time to learn about their business and values since it’s as important to them as your own business and values. Take a minute to understand your client’s vision and goals, and work on providing opportunities to fulfill them whenever and however possible.
• Be Real
Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Allow people to see who you are, what your beliefs are, and what you stand for. This builds trust and a great amount of respect. Being too professional and disagreeable is boring. You won’t even be able to enjoy yourself along the way. Afterall, it’s a journey and you might as well enjoy it by being genuine and true to yourself.
• Make it Personal
Every human being wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are and what they offer and provide, either as a service or simply through their presence. Sometimes it is nice to send a message of appreciation and gratitude to your customers. Say ‘Thank you, a lot.” I have come to learn that the more I openly show my gratitude and appreciation to my clients, the more they want to work with me. I often send notes to my clients, old and new, thanking them for their business. Never forget the people who got you where you are. And never, ever think you can say thank you enough to clients, customers, colleagues, friends, and family.
• Listen More, Talk Less
Being a good listener highlights your virtues much better than being a big talker. Yes, people value your advice and skills in handling money and business, but what can truly make you distinct is that you can take the time to listen, and really understand what your clients have to say.