How (and why) to maintain your business relationships year-round
November 29, 2018
Seasons change, but your business relationships should stay strong year-round.
Distributors require relationship building skills to communicate on each end of the supply chain, from getting products from manufacturers, to potentially selling to wholesalers, retailers, or other customers. Not to mention everything else involved, like storage, delivery, and financing that might bring other parties in as well. It all comes down to communication.
A chain relies on all of its links. Therefore, when it comes to long-term supply, you need to nurture and maintain each and every link in your supply chain. What makes a strong business relationship? A good reputation with your business partners and customers, and good communication between all parties.
What makes a strong business relationship? A good reputation with your business partners and customers, and good communication between all parties.
First, it’s necessary to build strong customer relationships because everyone else is on it. It’s a standard of professionalism that is expected. Without meeting that mark, you could be cutting great connections. In the very competitive world of wholesale, communication barriers can easily be overcome – by going elsewhere.
Don’t take anyone for granted. All connections are important, worthwhile, and have the potential to develop. Not every connection will pay off immediately, so be patient and nurture your relationships.
Reputation can make or break your business. Whether late or missing stock or poor service, recurring mistakes lead to labels. That being said, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Broken promises hurt your reputation. Although optimism is necessary when pitching your business, too much talk and not enough action makes you look unaccountable and unreliable.
Word of your approachability gets around. This is good news. Your best marketer is word-of-mouth. A good experience could mean a recommendation.
Get personal. Don’t be a stranger. Meet face-to-face with clients to keep them in the loop. On-site relationships make a difference. A phone call, email, or letter is nice on occasion, but an annual meeting with each customer goes a long way.
Invite clients to company events to make them feel included. Any familiarity with you and your company can really help build trust and trust goes a long way in building business and customer relationships.
Trust doesn’t have to be a promise. It might just be familiarity and involvement. Get engaged with who you’re doing business with.
Promises or guarantees help your distributors set standards to follow, but if 1995’s Tommy Boy has taught us anything, there are other ways to build trust, such as having solid communication methods between your company and its partners.
Better visibility saves you from constantly answering questions – you’ve already got it covered. It sets a standard for you and your employees to aspire to, which acts better than a guarantee and lets the customer know who you are.
Showing the customer your goals, your strategies, and your performance proves that you’re trustworthy, careful, and driven. Improve visibility to better your business relationships.
Ask for feedback. Check up regularly on your clients’ satisfaction, whatever their main concerns are. Feedback comes in many forms. Give your customer a chance to reflect on your services from afar. Then, confront the response personally. A customer is not likely to complain face-to-face, so allow for some initial distance to get an honest response.
Also, leave your door open in case issues or questions do arise. Feedback is important in building relationships because it allows you and your customer to get to know each other better.
Show your commitment to meeting customer demands by being transparent with all of the steps your company has been taking throughout the year to ensure their expectations are best met. Keep track of KPIs (key performance indicators) that are specific to a customer’s demands, such as customer order volume and frequency, average shipping times, and delivery efficiency. Having these prepared to show off proves that your attention is directed to keeping your promise.
Aside from on-site visits, there are numerous ways to connect with your supply chain. The digital age offers communication technologies available around the clock and globe. Your relationship building skills can be practiced using online platforms.
Supply chain relationships should be based on a partnership in order to maintain balance. Understand that mutual benefit keeps relationships strong.
Good communication allows you and your links to know and understand each other well. A healthy and growing business relationship allows you to understand the goals of your customers, the methods for achieving them, and the tools for avoiding issues. Get to know what your customers and sellers want and what they want to avoid.
These factors don’t just make doing business friendlier and more efficient. You’re not only removing communication barriers. You’re also making it easier to collaborate the many talents involved to the highest extent. Maintain the relationships with your strongest partners and develop the weaker ones.