All you have to do is estimate the cost of generating a new client to know how important it is to keep the ones you have. And locating new vendors you can trust and rely on to keep production running is a risky proposition and often, a substantial time commitment. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see the value of strong, long-term relationships with both your clients and vendors.
Instill in your employees that creating and maintaining those key business relationships is a company- wide responsibility. While marketing personnel are often the initiators of these relationships and, as such, are more responsible for maintaining them, it’s important that all team members consider it their job too. Management’s job is to set the example by creating and maintaining a positive environment, where both team members, clients and vendors alike feel comfortable sharing new ideas and potential solutions. The stronger a relationship is, the easier it is to express and receive new ideas and perspectives. Make sure that all employees feel vested in the success of all partner transactions in your business. You can do this by fostering cooperation and mutual interest in the success of your whole company rather than individual achievement.
Open communication, including listening and showing respect are critical parts of good working collaborations. Once you hear your client’s views, address their concerns in a timely and attentive manner and keep your promises. When difficulties or stresses arise between clients, employees or vendors, the solid relationship you have established will make resolution easy. The trust factor is already there.
Instead of imposing solutions and products, ask the right questions of your clients and vendors. What will make this work better for you? What will make this easier? What are we not doing that’s important to you? What is the competition doing right?
Many times, ideas for adding value to your product or service can come easiest from your clients. Vendors too, often have great ideas to help your business run smoother. When you ask these questions stop, listen, and take notes. Show that you respect their ideas and perspectives, including the complaints.
Make it fun. Psychologists say that relationships are built on shared positive experiences- find ways you can spread the good stuff. Communicate your success stories to clients. Include them in your celebrations, company parties, etc. When you find a great solution, share it. Provide useful information that helps business partners solve their problems
There are many good business reasons to make work-related relationships positive, in addition, it just makes coming to work each day so much more enjoyable for you and everyone you work with.
View your clients and vendors as long-term partnerships, that if valued and handled well, can last for years, possibly decades, creating a lasting stream of profit for all of you.