What is the most important asset in your business? Your product or service? Your building? Your machines and other capital infrastructure? The money in the bank? A big fat nope to all of that. Your most important asset is the relationships you build along the way. Whether those be with customers, suppliers or others in your supply chain, these are more important than bricks and mortar.
If you want to put it into business terms, it’s called social capital. Studies have shown how important building relationships can be when comes to business. And I’m not just talking about the ‘Hi how can I help you?’ type of relationship. Believe it or not, business relationships can be taken to a deeper level. No I’m not talking about intimacy, but certainly to a level where trust and understanding, and even empathy come into play.
Trust of course plays a massive role in building business relationships. Trust takes time to earn, but can be thrown away in minutes. Vendors can quickly become opponents that were once allies. The late, famous salesman and public speaker, Zig Ziglar’s quote says it all.
“If they like you, they will listen to you. If they trust you, they will do business with you.”
This isn’t to say all relationships in your business development need to be nurtured. The key is sometimes to be selective of the relationships that are working and those that are not. Good ol’ fashioned human intuition can play a role here. Maybe the vendor can’t deliver on what was promised. From a business perspective the trust is then tarnished. Is this a relationship that can be nurtured? How many times do you give a vendor the benefit of the doubt before recognizing what your business requirements are? Sometimes you have to let some relationships go for the sake of progress. It can be simply that you and the vendor don’t see eye to eye, and that’s ok. That’s all well and good from an external point of view. The same ideas apply internally as well.
Creating an environment internally that instills fairness, trust and honesty does one key thing...it builds loyalty. A ship that rats keep jumping from does nothing for moral. At this point a business needs to analyze its culture and fix what is making people (not rats) leave.
Assume there will be bumps in the business road where relationships become strained. How you deal with the bumps also has the ability to build trust or destroy it. This is where transparency helps maintain a healthy relationship. Trust is kept when even CEO’s admit mistakes and take steps to rectify a tough situation.
And of course there is the relationship you develop with your consumers. What do they want?...besides your product or service? A little empathy. Understanding where your clients are coming from or understanding their pain in dealing with a problem, even if it’s a leaky toilet, works wonders for building that relationship. The result of course is the growth of a long-term client. And a happy client tells others.
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