Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is Your Business Relationship Toxic?

photo credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc
In business, as in life, relationships are everything. A good business relationship results in more than a satisfied customer but one who evangelizes on your behalf. A toxic relationship can destroy a worthy project and keep you up at night with anxiety. Recently, I experienced both types and went into details with this post over at Head over there get the full story. For now here are 3 steps to help you cultivate a lasting business relationship.

1. Listen

Do not assume you understand the problem, need or concern. Think of how annoying you get when someone assumes the wrong thing about you and attempts to give you advice based on this false understanding. Well, your customer is also a person and gets annoyed by the same thing.

To make sure you understand always follow up with, "Do I understand you correctly." Move on only when give permission to do so.

2. Calibrate

Priorities shift as old problems get replaced by new ones. Your customer so busy, they forget to relay the change and assume you know. Make it a habit to continuously ask. Not just in official status meetings but even during casual discussions.

3. Take Their Temperature

Again, assuming will kill any type of relationship, especially one in business. To know if your customer  is satisfied, ask them! Sure, you may have delivered just as you were asked but how can you know for sure it's to their satisfaction.

At the conclusion of your engagement with the customer, reiterate the original problem and how you solved it. This is the time to toot your own horn a bit. It is also the customer's opportunity to let you know if and where you may have fallen short.

Be sure to follow up in the future to make sure your customer remained satisfied with the results. I have seen more than once consultants get blamed for issues long after completing a project. Following gives you the chance to clarify and to correct a problem if necessary. It also illustrates your respect and consideration.

So, don't just go for the quick dollar. Take the time and have the patience to foster the type of relationship that will keep them coming back for more. Remember, people do not buy products. They buy how the products make them feel.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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