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Essential Steps to Building Relationships in B2B (Part 2)

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Executive Summary.
1. Become truly distinctive at something that's of value to others.
2. Be authentic.
3. Give some trust to start the trust building process.
4. Demonstrate integrity at all times.
5. Be seen as contributing directly to your clients' growth and profits.

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Don't forget, that it's people who do business with people, not companies. Hence relationships and 'relationshipping' are critical, all the more so in B2B.
Last month I covered the first five of ten suggestions as 'Relationship Principles'. This month I outline the second five. Before doing so, let's recap the first five.

  1. Build your network before you need it.

  2. Be generous with your time and wisdom, and help others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

  3. Start a relationship by having an interesting conversation together, not by showing how brilliant you are.

  4. Focus on the person, follow them throughout their entire career, not the position.

  5. Cultivate your own interests so that you are interesting to others.

    Moving on, here are the second, five, 'Relationship Principles'

  6. Become truly distinctive at something that's of value to others. In our personal lives, we are drawn to others based on common interests, chemistry, likability, and other intangible qualities. These factors are also very important in professional relationships, but there is more: In business we look for people who can help us solve our problems and achieve our goals. In other words, you don't build a professional network based solely on being a nice and interesting person, you have to have something to offer. The foundation of your relationship building efforts has to be a truly distinctive expertise or value that you provide.

  7. Be authentic. If you're introverted, be comfortable about it, if you're extroverted, be that way all the time! When people first meet you, one of the most important things they are looking for is authenticity, that is, is what they see what they are really going to get? Don't try to slavishly imitate someone else's style. You have to develop your own, based on who you are and your natural character. Whoever and whatever you are, funny, introverted, cautious, reflective, and so on, be that way all the time. You are your personal brand and that's what makes you unique. Be proud of that!

  8. Give some trust to start the trust building process. Trust is the glue that holds together every long-term client relationship. It's a client's belief that you will act in their best interests and personally uphold the highest standards of integrity and competency, both inside and outside the office. When a client trusts you, anything is
    Partner: Andrew Clare Registration Number 2002/093486/23 Page 3
    possible, your recommendations carry more weight, and when you propose an additional sale, your client sees sincerity not salesmanship. To start the trust-building
    process, you often have to extend some trust to the other person. You need to assume positive intentions in their actions.

  9. Demonstrate integrity at all times. Integrity is a state of wholeness in which you act in accordance with a set of coherent values or principles. In other words, you know what's right, you're clear about what you believe in, and you consistently follow your beliefs.

    Research undertaken with hundreds of top executives indicates that there are four key dimensions to integrity:
    1. Honesty
    2. Discretion
    3. Reliability
    4. Consistency
    Are you always honest, discreet, reliable, and consistent in your behaviour?

  10. Be seen as contributing directly to your clients' growth and profits. They will never get enough of you. Be viewed as a cost and you can be cut at any time. You can exercise great relationship building skills as an individual advisor. But if you're not viewed as contributing to the accomplishment of important goals, revenue and profit growth, innovation, and so on, you'll be forever seen as an expendable vendor.

Summary of the ten 'Relationship Principles'

  1. Build your network before you need it.
  2. Be generous with your time and wisdom, and help others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
  3. Start a relationship by having an interesting conversation together, not by showing how brilliant you are.
  4. Focus on the person follow them throughout their entire career, not the position.
  5. Cultivate your own interests so that you are interesting to others.
  6. Become truly distinctive at something that's of value to others.
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Give some trust to start the trust building process.
  9. Demonstrate integrity at all times.
  10. Be seen as contributing directly to your clients' growth and profits.

This piece draws on input from Andrew Sobel

Andrew Clare is Managing Partner of reLiance a business to business relationship marketing practice. I focus on improving client profitability through developing, implementing and measuring sustainable, collaborative business to business relationships.

Cell: +27 83 326 2451, E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Web: www.rassa.co.za, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/andrewclare

 

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