A healthy professional relationship is like the best nourishment to a famished business. Do you have it in your DNA to get the right handshakes at the first instinct? If not, here is what you got to do. Keep reading and learn the importance of the art of building and nurturing professional relationships. This is an essential skill to own if you are a sales or a business development professional.
As per the Market Agency Growth Report 2018, 35% of firms scuffle to find workforces who are the right fit for the job and 12% of business organisations feel one of their biggest challenges is employee retention.
In India, there are millions of professionals who pass with flying colours every year. Yet there is a constant struggle to get the right jobs and ideal human resources for the profile. Consequently, this indicates a visible gap between the campus learnings and the requirements of the field. Learning the technical aspect is just one side of the coin. Acquiring the appropriate soft skills that are indispensable in the daily working environment is also must. Most professionals lack these soft skills which could bridge the gap and sow the right seeds for a successful professional career. One of the most important soft skill is ‘relationship building’ which comes with continuous practice and experience. Go ahead and learn more about the true essence of building healthy professional relationships.
Big or small, every business organisation and business development professional, must know that no business can flourish without relationships. Most often budding professionals and entrepreneurs get caught up in the minute details of building effective products and services and ignore the efforts to build relationships with customers, clients, stakeholders, employees. A robust and strong relationship will help to build the brand loyalty of the customers and vendors who would be the lifeline in times of crisis. An ideal way to share struggles and success. Just like personal relationships, professional relationships are mutually beneficial of sharing and supporting.
Essential Soft Skills for Relationship Building
For any sales or business professional to succeed in building relationships, one must possess the domain expertise as well the following soft skills:
Exceptional Communication and Interpersonal Skills
A great sales and business development professional must own exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. These skills are essential in order to be assertive, communicate, and speak with all the customers, internal and external stakeholders. A consistent way of building and nurturing communication skills in enhancing professional relationships would lead to better business profits.
Phenomenal Persuasion and Negotiation Skills
One must be tactful and persuasive as and when necessary. At times one has to demonstrate the negotiation skills to bring in the new business of mutual benefits and offer convincing solutions to the problems. In order to do this, at times one must go beyond offering effective solutions and win the trust of the customers and stakeholders.
Compelling Collaborative Skills
No business runs by a single person. It’s never a single showmanship. Every business function involves multiple business affiliations and runs through the collaborative efforts of several internal and external human resources. Building and managing all the relationships, navigate through the corporate grapevine and also augment the return on investment would need consistent and cohesive collaborative skills.
Reinforcing Research and Strategic Skills
Every business development professional whether it is sales or marketing must possess substantial and reinforcing research skills to analyse the changing needs and problems of the target audience. Knowing the consumers better would influence the designing of the business strategies and groom the strategic skills. This would aid the business to always stay ahead of the competitors and also stay abreast in offering the right solutions to the consumers, leading to harmonious relationships.
Profound Knowledge of Business Intelligence
Yes! Business intelligence is a very necessary skill to ensure one knows what they are selling and to whom. Get to know the products and services in detail. Dig deep into the marketing and gain knowledge about the competitors, changing business needs, and industry standards. One must showcase the necessary knowledge to ensure business relationships are fed with the right data at the right time.
Demonstrating these soft skills will help a sales and business development professional to sow the fertile seeds for a successful business relationship.
Approaches to Strengthen Professional Relationships
#1 High Curiosity Quotient
Professionals who are highly curious are considered to handle diverse situations, complexity and ambiguity. Such people offer simple and straightforward solutions for complex business problems. The compound and competitive business landscape emphasise the importance of this attitude and approach. Stay curious and stay ahead to build and maintain strong relationships.
#2 Appreciate the Consumer Needs and Behaviour
With the vast impact of technology and smartphones, consumers are more aware and educated than ever before. There is zero control of information. Business development executives and sales professionals must build strategies that help to appreciate the consumers need and behaviour, and also gain the trust of the audience.
#3 Seeking Right Questions and Active Listening
Ask the right questions with utmost professionalism. Always listen actively with the intent to understand the issues of the consumers and the business. Listening carefully and heeding to the problems would help one to offer the right value-add to the business.
#4 Set Realistic Goals and Action Plans
Always set SMART goals that are useful and meaningful for both the clients and business. An elaborate plan gives clarity of the problem and ensures the proper execution of the solution. This also depicts the leadership skills of the professionals by setting the realistic expectations for the customers, clients and the teams working on the same.
#5 Capability to Nurture the Brand
The process of building the brand involves creating a unique value proposition in the market along with generating business leads. One must possess the ability to nurture the brand and be a value-add to the business. All professionals have the attitude of, ‘What they could add to the business and the consumer’s journey with the brand’.
#6 Must Be Proactive
Every sales and business development professional must be proactive to find solutions to the problems of the customers and the business. Always forecast the problems and offer preventive measures and showcase effective risk management.
#7 Turn Mistakes into Opportunities
Mistakes are the stepping stones to success. Never feel shy to admit and accept your mistakes. A simple and humble apology can lead to long-lasting relationships. Ensure every mistake turns into an opportunity to enhance the relationship rather than a setback for business.
#8 Personalise the Relationships
Good or bad, always accept and share an acknowledgement. Send and share a thank you message to all the clients and customers. Have face-to-face interactions whenever necessary and possible. Such personalisation adds the right warmth to expand the relationship.
#9 Always Encourage Feedback
Any honest and open relationship must encourage feedback. Take the criticisms and feedback from the clients and customers in the constructive fashion. If you know you are right, stay strong with facts.
#10 Always Have Conversations
Every customer feels that when business interacts with them, it is always a sales pitch. A business development executive must get rid of that image and make the relationship casual. Even though it is a sales pitch, one must always put the customer in the first place and before driving them to make a purchase. Be genuine and be patient. It demonstrates a great leadership skill and makes you a role model for young professionals.
Tools to Refine and Nurture the Professional Relationships
In the real world, money is not the true essence of life. Money cannot buy or build the business. It is the beauty of relationships that promote the business. Long-lasting and powerful relationships take it course of time and require lots of investment of time and customer-centric initiatives. Here are some the common tools used by business development professionals to refine and nurture the professional relationships.
#1 Click Meeting
Click Meeting is a tool to schedule and set up sales meetings and calls quickly without any worry. The tool assimilates with several apps such as YouTube, Google Calendar, etc. The tool has a dashboard which offers analytics about the meetings which are handy for sales and business development professionals.
Gather the details of the contacts in your inbox through Rapportive. They connect through LinkedIn profile contact information and offer the latest details for the business needs. Offering the personalised data, this helps to give a personal touch to the business communications.
#3 Charlie App
An ideal tool to dig deep into the business contacts and know more about them. Charlie App gives a detailed picture of the people with whom you would have interactions. From the contact information about the consumers and business vendors, their background data and latest social media interactions, everything in just one tool.
Use Intercom chats tool to convert the website visitors into potential consumers. It is the right way to initiate the communication and build a long-lasting relationship with them. The personalise interactions make the customer feel special and valued.
Get the past and present information about the interactions with the consumer using Salesmate tool. The manual work of entering the data can be eliminated and generate automatic data about the customer’s lists and data through the dashboard reports.
The Network Nurturing and Timely Rewarding of Loyal Relationships is the Key to Building and Nurturing Professional Relationships.
Key Mistakes that Most Professionals Make
- A constant look for minor details and ignoring the core purpose of the business and customer collaboration.
- Not believing the products and services that one sells. If you don’t believe, how will the customers believe the product?
- Lack of planning and organisational skills. A meticulous and methodical approach to build sustainable relationships is vital.
- Lack of Persistence and perseverance to invest time and efforts to nurture the business contacts.
- Avoiding or ignoring the actual problems in the relationship.
- Thinking transactionally. Tit-for-tat attitude leads to failure of relationships.
- Not doing the homework, overpromising and inability to establish timely delivery.
- Lack of follow up with the fresh contacts and generating new leads.
- Lack of Consistency in Customer Relationship Management.
- More Emphasis on Selling, rather than Helping the Consumers.
Popular Books to Gain In-Depth Knowledge
- Give and Take by Adam Grant
- Top of Mind by John Hall
- Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards
- Giftology by John Ruhlin
- The Art of People by Dave Kerpen
- Leading Through the Turn by Elise Mitchell
- Self-Employed by Joel Comm and John Rampton
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- Relationship Economics: Transform Your Most Valuable Business Contacts Into Personal and Professional Success by David Nour
- Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty – by Patrick Lencioni
Whether it is a startup or an established business organisation, healthy relationships are the lifeline for a sustainable business growth. Strong, long-lasting, and mutually beneficial relationships are the foundation of a successful business. A satisfied client is a sign of positive future prospects of the business.
We hope this checklist and the ultimate guide to develop and hone the art of building and nurturing relationships is the perfect place to kick-start your learning and understanding of professional relationships. If you are yet to start your journey, it’s time to go ahead and begin the roller-coaster ride of professional relationships.