July 24, 2012
Do Relationships Really Matter?
I have heard many times in my career that Company A won a project because they had the “relationship.” I usually take a step back and reflect on what I thought was a relationship with the client. Don’t get me wrong, we have won projects because we have the relationship as well. Over the course of time this has forced to me to evaluate what a “relationship” really is – and answer the question, “Does it really matter?”
Below are the three things that I believe establish a relationship with a client:
- Show Interest: A relationship happens with two people – not a person and company or a person and some marketing collateral. In order to build a relationship you have to show the client that you are human – and YOU are interested in their well-being.
- Understand Challenges: A client starts to gain a lot of respect for a supplier or service provider when they try to understand the challenges they are faced with. As a service provider it is critical that I put myself in the shoes of the person I am talking too. Maybe it is pressure they are under from his or her superior about delivering a quality installation. Maybe the last contractor did a good job, but left behind a mess. You need to work very hard at understanding their perspective – because I don’t know of too many friends I have that are solely focused on their own success.
- Provide Value: You must provide value to the customer. A strong relationship is not one that is self-serving from either perspective. As the supplier or service provider you need to help your customer succeed. That may mean going to the extra mile to provide product information that helps him or her sell their idea internally. Maybe it is providing budget pricing or procurement ideas. Whatever it is it needs to make their job easier.
To answer the question of this article title – YES, relationships do matter. At times it may mean a day on the golf course or in the fishing boat. However, where real relationships are formed is when you help your client succeed. When that happens, you add value to them – and in turn, increase your odds of winning the project because of the relationship you’ve established.