We all need others to help us in our businesses. We need companies that excel in the things that we don’t to provide us with the products and services to operate effectively and efficiently. We need clients to sell to. It’s great to have referral partners too. Many times we end up in relationships that fall flat. We become unhappy or disenchanted if the other person doesn’t meet our expectations.
This usually happens when we haven’t been clear from the beginning. When we expect our vendors to know what we need and want, without telling them, we set ourselves up for disappointment. When you are paying someone for something you need in your business, you owe it to yourself, and to them, to be very clear. The same is true for client relationships. Being clear at the outset about what you are going to do for them, and what they are going to pay you, prevents dissatisfaction down the road.
When you think about the referral relationships you’ve had in the past, can you identify the ones that worked well? Can you remember the ones that didn’t? Do you know why? For those that didn’t work there was probably a misunderstanding about how the relationship would work.
So, how can you set the stage for successful relationships? Create a process for this relationship building. There really are steps you can take to ensure greater success with any business relationships you create.
- Determine what you want to get out of the relationship. When it is working well, what does it look like? Do this for vendors, clients, and referral partners. Get a very clear picture of what you think a great relationship looks like.
- Explore what you think they are going to want to get out of the relationship. What matters to them? W hile you’ll have a general idea you want to be able to pin it down.Create a list of questions you can ask the other party. This list will help you get to know them, what they want, how they tick, and what they believe. Pay attention. This is the place where you can identify whether they are a good potential partner.
- Together, create a written proposal for how you see working together. This gives each of you the opportunity to make sure your needs are going to be met. Moreover, it clearly spells out what the expectations and consequences are. Include the methodology for parting company in the event either of you would like to. This will go a long way to preventing ill will later on.
- Agree to review this document periodically throughout the relationship to make sure it is still relevant. You can make any changes to it at that time or determine that the relationship has run its course and it’s time to move on.
Taking the time to develop this strategy ahead of time will save you time in the long run. It will also help to ensure that any business relationship you enter into will be successful for all involved.