Nearly five years ago, the thought process of “winning people”was born when I lost a business transaction. It became so simple that I needed to focus on the long-term win of a relationship versus the upside or downside of losing a short-term transaction.
It’s time for version 2.0. If you missed version 1.0, you can find it here. As time changes, we must evolve to find ways to improve ourselves and help each other grow. The same applies as we all look to win relationships in life.
I love quotes about what it takes to be successful. Recently, I heard someone say, “Everyone wants to be successful until they realize how much hard work it will take to get there.” Hard work was instilled in me at an early age, not only by parents but by coaches and my business leaders. Our parents, grandparents, their parents, their grandparents–you get the drift–have always preached to us to treat others the way we want to be treated.
If we stop and think, isn’t that phrase the cornerstone of customer service? This is the first step to winning the relationship – whether in your personal life or professional career.
How to Win the Relationship
Step 1: Deliver excellent customer service & Show Gratitude
To build successful client or personal relationships, everything starts with how we treat and provide excellent service. Although this seems like common sense, why is it that we see people in our everyday work and personal lives choose otherwise? Let’s face it. We all get busy. We all get stressed and busy; however, that does not provide us the ability to treat others without respect.
It’s important to remember that we NEVER will reach goals if we don’t build strong relationships with people in our lives. It’s equally important to create a daily habit of delivering exceptional service. It all starts with how we choose to treat people, which should always be the way we want to be treated. This timeless advice never grows old and is something everyone should follow in the quest to build relationships. One small way to achieve this habit is by providing gratitude to those who are in your life. Challenge yourself to send one email each morning to someone in your life you’re thankful for.
Step 2: Manage expectations to create trust
Do you always take pride in setting expectations? Do you follow through on the expectations you’ve committed too? Or, do you do it occasionally? The answer should be that you set expectations and follow through on them all the time! Once you fail to deliver on the expectations you’ve set both internally or externally, the trust is broken, and judgment has been formed.
If your clients or colleagues can’t trust that you will follow through on commitments, why would they want to work with you? All too often, people set false expectations because they do not want to disappoint a teammate or customer. You will be surprised how much clients and colleagues will appreciate that you are not afraid to deliver the bad news or let them know you can’t meet a deadline. For example, years ago I had an opportunity to work with a key customer to win a large project. After thoroughly reviewing the requirements and details of the project, I realized the risks far outweighed the benefits of the reward– closing the deal. I had worked on building a strong relationship with this customer for two years, and the last thing I wanted to do was over commit and take on a project that could fail. As much as I wanted the deal, it was more important to me to win the relationship and set his expectations on why we were passing to compete on the project. Showing confidence to say “no” brought my relationship closer with this customer. By showing vulnerability, my client expressed how refreshing it was to have a vendor be honest with them, whereas other vendors continually say “yes” to win the deal.
Even though I did not win revenue, I won the relationship by properly setting his expectations. In turn, I have found that this type of behavior and communication yields long-term revenue opportunities.
Step 3: Actively listen without distractions
How do you define the ability to listen? Does it mean talking to your key client, while texting your co-worker and responding to that important email? If you answered yes, then you might want to go back and look up the word listening.
One of the key skills that most talented salespeople have is their ability to listen intently. Active listening skills allow you to have the ability to think and ask better questions. If you want to win the relationship, listening requires solid eye contact as well as the ability to listen beyond the surface level of a conversation.
If you make the conscious choice to listen to your customers and colleagues intently, you will be amazed at the response you receive.
When you are actively listening, you can provide “real” and “genuine” answers to your clients and colleagues. For example, every customer meeting that I attend, I make it a goal to leave learning something unique about them and their family. I also strive to hear the customer say, “That was a great question.” It shows I care, it shows I listen and it shows I can build relationships.
Step 4: Document what you hear & follow up
Whatever I learn, I make sure that I document that information in real time. In my experience, that is the only way that you can retain data. Without documenting what you heard from a potential customer, it makes it very difficult to remember information and follow up properly.
In a recent article by Hubspot, they listed many key stats regarding why salespeople fail. In their study, they found that 70% of salespeople will be more successful just by following up!
When you choose not to follow up, you choose not to win the relationship.
Step 5: Be authentic, genuine & drop the ego!
When you talk to your customers are you really yourself? Would your friends or family recognize this person if they saw you? How many times have you purchased something from a salesperson and left saying “Wow, he or she was so down to earth and easy to work with.” Sure, we all have experienced this, but it doesn’t’ happen enough which is why this unique differentation for you as you strive to win the relationship.
One of the best business books I have read was written by Patrick Lencioni, titled “Getting Naked.” One of my best friends told me about this book, and I was scared to search for it given the results that might come back. Kidding! This book teaches people the ability to be comfortable in your own skin and I believe is a must read.
In the technology consulting business, we often hear phrases or new technology acronyms. When you hear these terms, are you someone that pretends to understand these technology words? Do you nod your head ‘yes’ to your client or are you comfortable enough to ask, “What does JAVA mean?” Are you comfortable saying, “I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with that term. Can you please explain or give me an example so that I can better understand the technology?”
Perfect doesn’t exist, and we all have gaps. Drop your ego and be you. Don’t be afraid to ask a question to learn. This is the power of vulnerability. I am sure that you all have at one time asked your wife, your friend or your coach to explain something further. So, why doesn’t this transcend over to the business world? That is the question we need to constantly ask ourselves to ensure the true “you” comes out.
Step 6: Remember success is a journey, and so are relationships
Are you entitled to success? This is a huge issue in today’s society as your answer should’ve been that success is earned over time, not overnight.
Anyone who has achieved greatness has most likely put in hours and hours of hard work. Nothing is won or achieved quickly. For relationships, the same is true. The best relationships I have were built through consistent follow-up and hard work. They were also built overtime through authentic interactions!
For twenty years, I have focused on these six steps as I build long-lasting relationships:
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
- Set proper expectations
- Listen. Always listen.
- Document & follow up
- Be authentic, genuine & drop the ego
- Relationships and success are not built overnight
Don’t let yourself stand in the way to achieving all the great things you say that you want to achieve. Trust that if you follow the above rules, success will happen. It just takes time.
Now, it’s your turn to share your thoughts. How do you win relationships? Please leave a comment below or share with your network as I would like to connect with others.