When you think about “business relationships,” what comes to mind? Most people think of customer relationships. Companies put a lot of effort into developing good customer relationships. They focus on training their customer-facing people to be responsive and friendly, to deliver what is promised in a timely fashion, etc. This is smart business because it results in satisfied customers who usually become repeat customers. The investment in customer relationships just makes sense.
How come some companies who invest in customer relationships don’t get the results they’re looking for? How does it happen that a company that is effective in their customer service still does not realize the business results they seek?
And as it turns out, customer relationships only skim the surface of building effective business relationships. When you shift your thinking from transactional relationships to business relationships your perspective changes. When you view your business through the lens of relationships, your eyes open to a myriad of new possibilities.
Consider relationships beyond those with customers. Think about the relationships that are internal to your company: How does customer service get along with sales? And how does sales interact with marketing? And how about the executive office? When these relationships function smoothly and effectively, business results improve. Everyone’s energy becomes focused on the business rather than internal issues.
There other relationships to consider as well: What about your suppliers? Who in your company is managing supplier relationships with the same attention and consideration that your customer service people apply to customers?
And what about aspirational relationships? What other people, influencers, organizations, and associations would you like to be connected with? Do you have a list? Do you have a way to connect with them? You might be surprised to find out that you already know intermediaries who are connected to these aspirationals. Check out the people in your company. You may find that they have connections to your aspirational relationships. Check out LinkedIn to find intermediary connections. Ask your intermediaries to provide you with warm introductions.
So next time you think about business relationships, think about them in the greater context. When you manage your business through the lens of relationships, you find new opportunities and enriched results. Because sometimes “Who” is more important than “What”.