Note: This post is the second of a two-part article. Click here to read part one.
It is impossible to go down to your local bank, open a savings account with $100 and then turn around and attempt to withdraw $500. The teller would look at you like you are crazy! Your business relationships work the same way. As a home inspector, this is exactly what you do when your only marketing strategy is to accost agents and sell your company right off the bat. And while this strategy will result in some home inspections from the newer, less experienced agents, the successful, established agents will probably not give you a second look. They already have relationships built with their vendors, and you have done nothing to convince them that you are a business that would be worthy of developing a relationship with.
When attempting to develop these new business relationships, it is imperative to realize that you must provide value to the relationship or it will never develop. You must find a way to stand out from the crowd. In today’s always-on world, we are constantly accosted by advertisements. They are so ubiquitous that we hardly even notice them anymore. For any type of ad to stand out in our minds, it must do something different from the crowd. Establishing and maintaining business relationships works in a similar manner. Your potential business partner is constantly bombarded with appeals to use someone’s services. You are just another one of those home inspectors that they run into, begging for a hand out.
Wow, you guys even all dress alike…
You must do something that makes your business stand out; providing value to the relationship. It can be something as simple as emailing them a pertinent story, solving a problem or answering a question. Whatever it is, you should start out by providing value to the fledgling relationship without ever asking for anything in return: unselfishly giving of yourself without immediately asking for something in return. It sounds counter-intuitive to everything we’ve been taught about traditional marketing, but we are not marketing, we are developing relationships.
Once you have established that this has the potential to evolve into a mutually beneficial relationship, and have provided value to your business partner, you can begin to ask for some small commitment. It may be liking your Facebook page, signing up for your newsletter or allowing you to sponsor an event for them. Regardless, it is an attempt to get them to make a small commitment to you, signifying that, yes, they do have some level of respect for you and your business. The funny thing is that once you have consistently provided value to this relationship and have proven that you are worthy of the other person’s trust, they will often ask what they can do for you before you even have a chance to ask for help. If they value you, they will be looking for ways to repay you for the value that you have provided to the relationship.
Developing trust is of paramount importance, with your clients as well as your business relations. Use every opportunity to develop this trust, regularly contributing to this investment account, and it will eventually pay dividends.
Always remember that the amount of trust that you develop with your clients and business associates has a direct impact on the number and severity of problems that you will have in your business. Problems are inevitable; they will strike each of us in our personal and professional lives. Having someone in your corner that has trust and respect for you and your business methods can go a long way in minimizing the severity of these problems.
Invest in building trust; it’s the best investment that you can make.
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