What sort of people do you buy from or like doing business with? Considering people you know, personally or professionally, what makes you like and respect them? I would say that in most cases, you have known them for a while before either buying from them or becoming acquaintances. These days we don’t generally go up to someone and part with our hard-earned cash or say, “You’re my mate now” unless you have built a relationship over time. People like to deal with people, but it takes time to get to know someone. Are they trustworthy? Respected? Caring? Friendly? Fun to be around? Will they do as they say?
The initial contact, the “Ice breaker”, is always the hardest. It will always start off with a question and go into a fact-finding session on both sides. Some people find this first meeting really hard, but the other person is likely to feel the same, so don’t worry. Be yourself. Don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not as you will always get caught out. Years ago, when I had no grey hair, I always found that I behaved differently around certain so-called important people. The bottom line is that they are like you. Yes, surprise surprise, they’re human too!
The relationships that companies build with their customers, more often than not, are non-existent. Why is it that companies spend thousands, and in some cases millions, on advertising/marketing for new customers? You are better off investing in customer service and client retention as much as you are in new business. So much can be done to enhance the relationship between customer and supplier, but so few do anything about it.
Some relationships will be at a purely professional level while others lead to close relationships. That’s life! You will get on with some better than others, but whatever happens, always remember to be yourself.
Having built and sold my SME, I now work with SMEs. I understand their model by embedding myself in the senior management team so I feel the heartbeat of the business. All areas are covered, but the four questions that we work on solving are: How do I grow my business?, How do I achieve client excellence?, How do I make more profit?, and Does my business model deliver?
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