Relationships are the lifeblood of any business. However, it is important to examine those relationships to see if your customers see you as a vendor or as a partner.
The most fundamental need in any partnership is trust. Trust is a combination of credibility times connection, according to Jeff Hiller, director of training at JB Training.
To establish credibility you need to make sure you understand your customer’s needs. This is not a time for guessing, but rather is time for conducting a thorough assessment. You need to dig for information about the customer, the industry and even the customer’s competition. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about your customer’s business and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Connection is about building strong bonds and that can take time. It can include things like building experiences and memories.
Here are some things Hiller told attendees at a recent NationaLease meeting they need to do to build successful relationships:
- Crush on tasks: Treat requests from customers like a competition and fulfill their request as if keeping their business in the future depended on it.
- Crush on deadlines: Act as if you have limited time to accomplish tasks. Get projects completed before the customer needs them.
- Crush on budgets: Treat your customer’s money as if it were your own and make sure you get value for the money you do spend.
- Do what you say you will do: If you promise to do something for a customer make sure you get it done. Especially for longer projects, it is a good idea to keep the customer updated on your progress. Today, people expect transparency in their interactions so keeping customers in the loop is essential.
Unless you can establish trust via credibility and connection with your customers, they will continue to see you merely as a vendor rather than a partner. When times get tough it is easier to let a vendor go than to sever ties with a partner.