We all know relationships are important with clients. If you own the relationship with a client account, you most likely own the business. Just as important as client relationships are the relationships within your organization and with vendors who help your business run smoothly. Problems in these relationships usually lead to problems in client accounts, which could result in lost business. You also spend a good amount of time with vendors and co-workers, so the better your relationships with them, the more pleasant your work life will be. All of that said, how do you ensure good, solid relationships within your organization and with vendors?
3 Steps to building strong relationships
Step 1: Follow Steven Covey’s Habit #5: Seek first to understand.
In order to build a relationship with someone you have to get into their world. Here are some ways to do that with vendors and people you work with.
a) Ask them: What can I do to make your job easier? During my first week at Diebold Banking Equipment, I approached each individual in installation and service and asked this question. When they realized I was willing to work with and help them, they in turn were willing to work with me and help me.
Ask vendors this question too. You want to make their lives as easy as possible. An example of this is with insurance agencies I work with. They ask their carriers what a perfect submission looks like and then do their best to achieve that. Also keep in mind that your objective is to be a great customer for your vendors. Be easy to work with, make sure your interactions with them are good ones, and thank them when possible.
b) Talk about their favorite subject. In other words, talk about them, their family, kids, pets, and related subjects. Try to keep the conversation positive and upbeat. While you may have to talk about someone’s cancer treatment or illness, you want to keep most conversations focused on good things going on in the person’s life. Also, be careful not to one-up people. If someone is talking about their daughter playing soccer, you can mention that you daughter plays soccer too, letting them know you have something in common with them. Just don’t talk about your daughter being a superstar or shift the conversation from their daughter to yours. Ask about activities they’re involved in such as bowling leagues, softball, golf, etc. Make sure to listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them at least in that proportion. Drop in some of your own personal information so they have something they can connect with you on but again, make sure they are talking most of the time and be careful not to out-shine them. Remember everyone’s favorite radio station: WIIFM: what’s in it for me. Focus on that when you talk to people. What do they want and what are they interested in?
c) Let others be right, let them go first, and make them feel important. Everyone’s number one need, provided they have food, shelter and the basics, is to be recognized and to feel important. Most people are mirrors. When you let other people be right and let them be first, they’ll do the same for you. They’ll also be much more willing to work with you.
d) Use Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule is of course: Treat other’s the way you want to be treated. It’s effective more than 90% of the time. To get closer to 100%, use the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. Ask for preferences regarding communication and other business protocols. Don’t assume that your preference is everyone else’s preference.
Step 2: What gets rewarded, gets repeated.
When I worked for Diebold, I used to give $5 and $10 gift cards to people in the installation and service departments. I also gave them baseball tickets and other gifts. On special occasions, during the holidays, or when they really went above and beyond, I used to give more expensive gifts such as jewelry or their favorite alcohol. Based upon rules and regulations you may or may not be able to do some of these. Either way, you must acknowledge and thank them for helping you and doing a good job. Stop by their office, thank them for what they just did for you, give them a small token of your appreciation, and ask about their favorite subject.
Here are some other ideas for rewarding people that don’t cost anything:
- Send an e-mail telling the boss what an asset they are to the company. Make sure you copy them in.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note.
- Call them on the phone and thank them or stop by in-person.
- Build them up with sincere compliments.
- Praise them in front of their peers or higher-ups.
Step 3: Treat co-workers and vendors like one of your top accounts.
A great way to build relationships internally and with vendors is to give them the same extra-special treatment that you give your top accounts.
Here are some ideas:
- Send them birthday cards and holiday cards.
- Give them holiday and birthday gifts.
- Study their areas of interest so you can have intelligent conversations with them.
- Give them books, articles, and other items related to their areas of interest.
- Pass on articles and other information about their high school, college, and hometown.
- Pass on good articles and information you come across about their kids, spouse, relatives, or their related interests.
- Find articles and other stories written about your vendors’ companies and industries, and occasionally discuss some of this information with them.
- Pass on items of religious and political interest.
- Give gift certificates to restaurants and stores.
- Give tickets to sporting events, shows, dinner events.
- Contribute to one of their favorite charities.
- Make a small investment in their business or something else they are involved in.
- Give vacations or trips to trade shows and other industry events.
- Get creative and come up with other great ideas to turn co-workers and vendors into loyal partners and great friends.
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:www.completeselling.com John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org