I just returned from Vegas last night, where I blissfully celebrated the marriage of my oldest daughter. It was a wonderfully complex event. Multiple families, exes, kids of all ages (literally and figuratively and such). On the flight home, it got me thinking, as everything does. What is the key to a great marriage? How similar is it to stellar business relationship? And then how do you know if really have got one?
Each of us has done it. We merrily go along in our daily routines operating as if we have built the relationship of our career, believing we have a slam-dunk win. We confidently say to ourselves, our colleagues and leaders “I have really developed a solid client relationship, nailed it, connected on so many levels, we trust each other, they will certainly buy from me”, only to realize our client is not able to “pull the trigger” with you, your company or solution or even worse they choose to do business elsewhere. What is that about? Man, I hate when this happens!
(Spoiler Alert: if it has NOT happened to you yet, I promise it will at some point in your life and career).
Let’s quickly assess the steps to ensuring there is enough trust to take your business relationship to the next level.
- Temperature check! Directly ASK your client and ASSESS the current situation: First things first. In order to find out where you are in the relationship, just ask. Depending upon your product or solutions portfolio or where you are in the sales process your questions may vary: How do you feel about wrapping this up today? OR I say we go for it, let’s pull the trigger on this right now, and what do you we need to do to make this happen? OR How am I doing in earning your trust, it is really important you feel confident in working with my organization and me? NOTE: After you ask a question, your job is to SHUT UP, listen, be incredibly aware and hyper observant to see what happens. You will instantly get feedback of your current state of trust and level of true connection. Be prepared to listen and ask purposeful questions to take the relationship to wherever the client wants to take it!
- Heart Check! Stop and take some time to focus on what connected you initially. Get reconnected. Take a break from the business for a moment and redevelop the friendship that initiated your business relationship. Get to know each other again and this will naturally take the business relationship to the next level. Go to lunch, a community event, a ball game, or just talk about something other than your project! Be humans together!
- Gut check! Your gut talks to you all time. If we stay quiet long enough we can listen and know our truth. We often know when something is not quite “right” or out of alignment. Trust yourself to know when your client is not ready to move forward and ask what they need in order do so. You have access to all of the resources to deliver the best solution; the mistake is assuming the client will choose you without a connection. Ensure trust is built and your customer will “pull the trigger” and say “I DO” time and time again.
Trust is such a key component to day-to-day business dealings it often outweighs price, delivery schedules, etc. People want to say “I DO” business with people they like and trust. Therefore you cannot overlook the need to continually fine-tune your “trust-building” skills in order to progress your most significant and meaningful relationships all the way to the altar! (Well, you know what I mean).