Strong Relationships Keep Your Business's Engine Running

BY: Daniel M. Savage

Regardless of the nature of your business, relationships play a vital role in every facet of its operation. Relationship quality has an especially profound impact on sales and client retention. So let’s take a closer look at why strong relationships and the behaviors that strengthen them are so important to your success.

What, exactly, is relationship management? Simply defined, relationship management is a deliberate strategy designed to ensure engagement with your customers, prospects, and other constituencies in a meaningful way over time. Rather than being transactional in nature, relationship management is about developing and sustaining true partnerships.

Why is this so important? Consider this: Outstanding relationships are more important than…

  • Price
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Service
The quality of your relationships will determine the outcome of events when issues with price, delivery, quality, or service arise. This is not to say that these issues can or should be ignored; rather, a great relationship can be a buffer that buys time to better understand and harmoniously overcome challenges. In addition, relationship is the single most important factor in determining future sales opportunities.

How can we improve our relationship management practices? Jim Cathcart, author of Relationship Selling, is an expert on selling through relationship building. He has compiled a list of insightful observations and metaphors that illustrate the power of relationships with customers and others. Here they are:

  • When the relationship is right, the details are negotiable. When tension is high, the relationship is wrong; hence, the details become obstacles.
  • When there is little difference between your product and your competitors, there must be a big difference in the way you deal with people.
  • In selling and service as in medicine, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice.
  • We judge ourselves by our intentions, but others judge us by our actions.
  • A professional is not determined by the business he or she is in, but rather by how that individual conducts business.
  • Observe the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.
  • In order to improve your circumstances, first improve yourself.
  • It is impossible to avoid leading by example. Somebody is always watching you.
  • People will teach you how to deal with them…if you’ll pay attention to the (spoken and unspoken) messages they are sending.
  • One sincere gesture can do more for your business than thousands of dollars of advertising.
  • It’s not just whether you sell the right item that counts. It’s whether the customer realizes, feels, and believes that it was right for them.
  • The best way to get what you want is by helping others get what they want.
  • People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
  • Your pay will always be equal to the contribution you are making. To give yourself a raise, make a greater contribution to others.
  • There are no traffic jams in the extra mile. Go there if you want to get anywhere.
As you can see from Cathcart’s observations above, the “Rules of Selling” are subordinate to the “Rules of Relationships”.

As a bonus, the “Rules of Relationships” extend far beyond clients and prospects. They also apply to our interactions with suppliers, employees, shareholders, friends, and family.

Good relationships demand hard work, patience, persistence, and a willingness to nurture them over the time, but once achieved, they are a powerful force in your business and personal worlds.

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