How to Build Lasting Relationships

Trust, integrity and honesty. When these are at the core of your business relationships, you’re virtually guaranteed a customer for life. But how do you go about establishing these traits in the first place? The following tips explain:

Follow Through

Few things undermine credibility like an empty promise. If your product claims it will do something, be absolutely sure it does. When you tell a customer you will get back to him or her, do it no matter how busy you are. Following through backs up your word, and there’s nothing more powerful in business.

Make Listening a Priority

As a business owner, you’re used to leading the conversation. And most of the time this is okay, especially considering the day-to-day problem solving that needs to occur while running things. But to earn the respect of colleagues and clients it pays to listen – really listen – to what they have to say, sincerely and with interest. The more engaged you are the more you will learn about them and their needs, which makes providing a solution easier.

Respect People’s Time

Time is a valuable resource that no one wants to waste. If you’re interested in selling something to a client, do your homework. Ask pertinent questions that move the dialogue forward. Being ill prepared shows a disrespect for the client’s time that few will indulge, and it might even lose a sale to a competitor that’s more on the ball.

Give Before Asking

Today’s competition being what it is – fierce – it’s human nature to ask for the sale up front. However, to make a positive impression and build solid relationships, consider giving something first. It might be a special offer on a service or an exclusive peek at a new product. Or, perhaps, it’s your time with a prospect that feels more comfortable once he or she knows you better.

Reward the Repeater

Take out your calculator and multiply every one-stop customer sale by five, ten or even twenty. That’s what you could be earning by turning one-trick purchases into long-term customers. Encourage repeat consumers with reward programs and other special perks. They’ll appreciate the thought, and your bottom line will thank you.

Remember the Essentials

To paraphrase billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, “Business is about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” The primary essential in any business is the relationship it has with its customers and the community it serves. If you focus on these first and consider everything through a consumer lens, you will be surprised at how successful you might be.

Take Care of Your Own Relationships

The demands of running a small business can take a toll on family and other relationships. While it may seem impossible to find the time, be sure you make every effort to create a balance between work, family and friends. While you may feel your job is your life, without healthy relationships outside of work it can be stressfully one-dimensional.

Consumers reward businesses that develop enduring relationships. By following these steps, you can ensure that yours remain strong today and tomorrow.

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