Inspiring Loyalty in your Partners: We all aspire to have loyal and reliable partners. Particularly in B2B companies where we understand so much about the others’ pressures and challenges, close working relationships are crucial. Vendors become an extension of ourselves – that is the highest level of trust you can have with someone outside your organization. It’s not easy to achieve, but it’s important to achieve it. Here are a few of my thoughts on how it is done.
Essentially, your role is to find the best solutions to clients’ problems. You’re there to take on the inconveniences, complications, and challenges and turn them around in your clients’ favor. This means understanding exactly what they need and what their priorities are. It’s not always going to be easy, and you will experience issues. However, it’s hugely important to dispense with the sales smooch and level with your would-be clients: give it to them straight. There is nothing more powerful and likely to build lasting trust between you.
When you have successfully delivered consistently enough to have won your clients trust, now it’s about maintenance. But, if you think you can keep doing the same thing to maintain your relationship, you’re wrong. At this stage, you need to become even closer to your client. It’s not just about facilitating their missions, it’s now about being their partner. Understanding them more so you are able to anticipate their needs and mitigate their concerns.
Don’t be reluctant to give the client more than you get (or charge for) in return. Long-lasting relationships built on trust and loyalty are of course reciprocal, but not entirely on a quid pro quo basis. Sometimes it can be plain sailing for one partner and a time of enormous challenges for another. In other words, it’s ok to invest a lot more in your client from time to time, safe in the knowledge that it is appreciated and when the time is right, they will return the favor. Both of your successes are tied to each other so supporting them in theirs secures yours.