When we think about the customer to business relationship there is often the context of B2C (Business to Consumer), B2B (Business to Business), or B2G (Business to Government) – but I like to think of business relationships as P2P – People To People.
No matter whether you are selling a product or a service there is someone involved in creating that and someone involved in consuming it. Its still relationship and people are at the heart of that.
For me this extends not just to customers – but to your investors, your shareholders, your employees and your suppliers.
Business all comes down to great relationships so getting this dynamic right is vital.
Let me share a couple of thoughts on building good business relationships.
1. Put others first
Sure on part of business is about winning against competitors – but I have found that genuinely trying to think of others before myself has help create great business relationships.
It means you go into negotiations looking for the win-win.
Opportunities present themselves that you weren’t expecting because there is mutual trust.
By learning from others you get the chance to grow and become a better person yourself
“Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people who could help you make more of yourself.” Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
2. The Three C’s
I’ve also used a quick framework to help me work out whether I want to be in a business relationship with someone using the three C’s:
Character is knowing that someone is honest and you can trust them. As an investor I understand that inevitably things are going to go wrong. You need to know that a founder will have the honesty to share that – not so you can catch them out – but so that you can work together to work through the issue. This requires mutual trust – so character needs to be tested both ways in the relationship.
You need to know that someone is good at what they do. There is some level of proof that they have done what they say they have done. It’s the credibility test.
Over time we can learn to build our character and our competency.
The final C – Chemistry – is the relational fit. It’s not always easy to choose this but life is short so as best you can you want to do it with people who have a positive emotional effect on you. I like to use the beer of coffee test – if I won’t enjoy sitting down and having a beer or coffee with you – I’m not sure I want to be in a business relationship with you.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”– Dale Carnegie