In business is like in any aspect of our lives: it’s all about relationships.
If it is everything about relationships and we all seek to create meaningful connections around us, how come we find challenging to maintain these social links?
Well, is like in everyday life, learning and learning, is about empathy and again learning plus a pinch of curiosity along the way and much more…
What we will explore next, is how are the main traits of lasting human relationships can apply in business type relationships.
- Natural affinity
Seek out yourself.
If you work in accounting, law, finance, ICT, then interview the rainmakers from your field of activity. Ask them to list their most loyal clients and enthusiastic referral sources. Then ask the rainmaker to describe each person. Two interesting patterns usually emerge.
What you will notice is that the profiles of the most loyal clients are very similar and more importantly, are very similar to the rainmaker himself. Surprising huh?
The idea is that in business, we end up collaborating or hiring the people who seem very similar to us. It is like in any other relationship: similarities attract each other.
Encouragement: Choose the clients who are most like you but be careful that this will amplify your strengths but also your weaknesses.
Avoid blind dates
What does it mean exactly? If you would never select a particular service yourself from Yellow Pages or Gumtree, never take a client who responds to you from these sources. This is a hard lesson to learn, indeed. Clients generated purely from advertising, and particularly from Yellow Pages or Gumtree advertising, are the least loyal clients. They are the most apt to leave early, often before they become profitable and you end up serving them at the expense of good clients. The odds of success are minuscule, your chances of longevity not much better, therefore avoid blind dates!
Avoid the Fickle
Clients who have run through several similar service businesses before choosing yours are probably impossible to satisfy. It is exactly like in your personal life: your conventional social wisdom urges you to avoid as a spouse someone who has been divorced many times. The idea is that working with these unsettled type of people will make you even more uneasy. To gain loyal clients, find loyal people.
Seek clients you would want as friends
I know, what we usually do in business is to separate business from the rest of our lives. Like most of us we assume that business responds to a different set of rules: the set that says work is hard, work isn’t supposed to be like play and that business relationships are different from personal ones. Unlike people in a bad marriage, people in a bad business relationship have little incentive to stick out. When is a failing business relationship, you just need someone else to reassign to the person and just let it go. Well, counselling can work for couples; businesses, however don’t have the time.
When communicating, tell me more about me and myself
Did you ever fall in the trap of speaking and communicating a lot about your company? If advertising is more about yourself, then is time to reconsider your business relationships…
Imagine if I am in the shoes of the prospect client, I do not care about how special you think you are. I care about what you can do for me and how much you might care for me. Your years of history, your commitment to excellence, your president’s message to shareholders, your various statements of mission and commitments-about these I don’t care.
Do not communicate for the sake of communicating, don;t tell us something about your company because other companies do the same or just because you have an advertising budget to spend, tell me something that I really care about. Tell me about me.
Go slowly, relationships take time
Imaging that you’re receiving this type of letter.
“Dear Mr. Thomas,
Because you drive and love the new Lotus 540 and are an avid reader of travel magazines, we want to alert you to a wonderful new publication: Lotus Lover. We know you both and your wife, Maria, will appreciate its timely articles, including lifestyle features on topics of great interest to you, such as Czech Beer, Cuban Cigars and golf in your native country Italy.”
How do you feel when reading this letter? Feelings such as: invasion, anxiety and concern might cross your mind. Imagine that is some company out there that pretends that knows you, someone recorded your reading habits and all the personal boundaries are crossed over. A feigned relationship is worse than no relationship at all.
Coming soon, the articles about Trust, Speed, Apparent Expertise, Sacrifice, Completeness, Magic, Passion