This is not rocket science, but it certainly bears repeating – creating and maintaining relationships may not be the quickest way to creating a long term business, but it is definitely the surest way.
As a Principle Consultant with Expense Reduction Analyst, Ruth Cohen, believes that without strong relationships, it is impossible to succeed as a business owner. “They require some effort to maintain and must be mutually beneficial. As in any relationship, you must be willing to share, give and support, not just take or receive”, says Ruth.
Rule # 1
People like to deal with people
Networking, referrals and introductions are the best way to meet people and engage with them.
Become a networking hub - invite clients and prospects to hosted seminars and events make up tables, generate opportunities for people to network among themselves. The flow on effect will be introductions to people you would like to meet.
Attend networking events and qualify the people you meet – can you help them in their business? Can they help you? If there is an opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship – nurture it.
Follow up on contacts and be sincere in your efforts to make meaningful connections. Always start with the premise that you are looking for opportunities to help and make introductions for clients, prospects and referral partners.
Attend events to which you are invited. You are not just a name on someone’s list – you are an important part of what will make someone else’s event a success.
There is a place for cold calling, but it really should be a last resort.
Rule # 2
People like to deal with people they trust
Nurture your relationships with your clients and become their trusted adviser. The line between friendship and having a good client relationship is a fine one – maintain your professionalism at all times.
Don’t let your clients down. Ever. Don’t talk about them to other clients or prospects without their permission. If you do have permission, tell people what a great company your client is to work for.
Make sure they always know you are on their side and mediate, if necessary, with suppliers. As their consultant, it is your responsibility to advocate for your clients throughout your relationship.
By creating an environment of trust and confidence, you will ensure long-term client relationships.
Rule # 3
If you don’t get to know the person you are trying to deal with, how can you know what makes them tick?
Try to get to know what their passions are, remember them and support their charitable obligations. Recognise milestones – babies, illness, promotions etc. – it seems like a no-brainer, but it’s the little things which count.
And share information about yourself so they know what makes you tick too.
Once you have developed a relationship with your client, try to understand what their hot buttons are and what they respond to. Do they like visual presentations, do they like complicated reports with lots of spread sheets or do they just want the bottom line?
Are you taking up their valuable time giving them what you want to give them, or are you giving them what they want to see?
If something is going wrong – and even in the best of relationships things do go wrong – don’t take a hard line! Understand what it is your client wants and try to find a mutually acceptable solution. You may not get exactly what you want every time, but you will have kept a client and, potentially, a future referee.
Rule # 4
If you maintain relationships in the long-term, you get business for the long-term
Keep in touch. Just because you may not be earning a fee all the time, is no reason not to invite your clients and prospects to events and seminars, Christmas parties etc. Or even just catch up for a coffee or lunch to see how the job/family/sport or whatever, is going. Your efforts in maintaining the relationship should be genuine and long term, and not motivated by self-interest!
If you maintain relationships with all the people who make up your business – suppliers, prospects and clients, you will get the best results for your client – and for your business.
Something for nothing – give people value without always expecting something in return
Enjoy the relationships you have created – you will have made a lot of new friends along the way!
About Expense Reduction Analysts
Expense Reduction Analysts is a global leader in cost reduction focused on helping companies create extra profit through realising optimum value from purchase and supplier management. ERA has highly experienced industry experts who monitor market trends and can perform fleet reviews and provide guidance on the best option for either outsourcing or insourcing the management of your fleet.
If you would like to know more about fleet management or ERA’s other services, please contact [email protected]