Of course, I’m biased because I have been in sales, professionally, for almost 30 years. Most people cringe when they hear the word “sales” because it congers up all kinds of nasty ideas in their heads. A used car salesperson at the top of mind in this case…
To me, “sales” has always been about building a trusting relationship. It makes the sales process much easier when you are focused on developing a relationship first and foremost. This principle applies to both our business and personal lives; I believe we are always selling something! In business, it could be a major infrastructure project to a city, renovation to a client, or a company culture to a prospective employee. On a personal level, it may be a date to a potential partner or a game of golf with a good friend. Albeit very different circumstances, these examples require developing and maintaining a relationship.
Forming trusting, caring, and compassionate relationships is fundamental to building a quality life. This comes more naturally to some rather than others. However, even if it’s not a strong suit of yours, I encourage you to prioritize it. It can be lonely and discouraging when relationships are absent from our lives. Establishing healthy relationships allows you to share both the joys of success and the agony of defeat.
With the right people and open communication, relationships can make a huge difference in how you handle obstacles. When you have good relationships, even the most difficult situations can be easier to handle, discuss, and resolve. Good relationships can hold you accountable, keep you humble, and lift you up when life’s pressures are weighing you down. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you surround yourself with poor relationships, even the smallest challenge can pose major difficulty and be tricky to resolve. Whether you are positive or negative, confident or insecure, you are being influenced by the people you surround yourself with.
Relationships are a two-way street; you have to give in order to receive. Being able to listen, empathize, and provide non-judgmental feedback is critical to developing and maintaining your relationships. Both parties in a relationship need to trust their counterpart has their back and will be there with them even when things go sideways. I know, it’s easier said than done!
Now, focusing solely on business relationships. In my opinion, the three most critical relationships are with employees, suppliers / subtrades, and clients.
I have heard many successful businesspeople say that staff are the most important part of any company. Speaking from experience, I can confirm this is true. Maintaining these relationships is critical to success! Unless you, as the owner or manager, wish to complete every task required to run the company. Of course, I’m being facetious because there is bound to be a time you will need support in your business. It’s important to note that people come and go for various reasons so try not to take it personally and remain open to developing new relationships as your company grows and changes.
SUPPLIERS / SUBTRADES RELATIONSHIPS
These relationships are often your lifeblood when it comes to completing projects and successfully growing your company. A critical aspect of maintaining a solid relationship with your suppliers is that you can count on them to help you out in a pinch. Certainly, this goes both ways. Now, please don’t “cry wolf” when small issues arise. This will most certainly result in a loss of trust, and they will likely not take your urgent requests seriously in the future.
Everyone has heard “the customer is always right” but I think we should look at this phrase from a new perspective. When you have a trusting relationship with clients, they will seek your advice and guidance rather than fighting with you to be “right”. Ultimately, you should both be on the same side trying to problem-solve together. I often say “the clients you don’t do business with are just as important as the ones you do”. Definitely, a concept for you to think about! On the other hand, have you ever heard of “firing the client”? This is what I call it when it’s not feasible to develop a healthy relationship with a particular client and we need to step away. No matter how much a project is worth, a bad relationship will be toxic for you and your company. Most noteworthy is that this toxic relationship will take up your mental space and interfere with pursuing quality clients. Spend your time with clients who will respect you and trust your judgment. In the long run, this is the type of client you want a relationship with.
I will save personal relationships for another time but suffice it to say, these relationships are critical to personal happiness and impact your business much more than we realize. Our partners, children, parents, and friends are what make our lives complete and if any of these relationships are lost, then the remaining relationships become increasingly important.
I truly hope you found this article interesting and helpful and please continue building your relationships. In the end, they may be all we have and all we will ever need.
by Dan Monk