Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Relationship Advice: Forming, Performing, and Maintaining Business Connections

All day, James Moburg is on the phone.  And whether it’s clients, customers, buyers, or partners calling, James takes the time to answer all questions, provide all required information, and work through all problems.
But James is doing so much more than just giving his clients information about his small business.  As he works through each call, something crucial is happening behind-the-scenes.  James is not just making conversation within each phone call; he is also building long-lasting business relationships.
According to Moburg, co-founder of LeadTunnel, a company focused on lead generation, long-lasting business relationships are imperative for any business to succeed.  In order to provide you with more information about how to build long-lasting business relationships (that strengthen your company as well as your own working life), I sat down with James as he briefed me on the three steps needed in order to create a relationship in business that actually lasts.
Step 1: Forming the relationship.  James refers to the beginning of a business relationship as a tryout or a first date.  Both parties involved in the potential relationship must earn the right to continue on in developing it.
Step 2: Performing within the relationship.  In order to establish a long-lasting business relationship, people must actually enjoy working with you.  And after they’re done working with you, they should want to refer you.
Step 3: Maintaining the relationship.  “The biggest difference between a business fling and a long-lasting relationship is being the predictable consistent and dependable performance from your service or product,” says James.  “Think Step 2, over and over again.”
And James had even more tips in store for entrepreneurs.  His top 5 tips include managing people’s expectations, becoming a real person, engaging that particular person, becoming reachable, and knowing the competition. 
But the most important tip that James centers all of his relationships around is the key ingredient to any long-lasting business relationship: confidence.  James’ favorite quote, “confidence is contagious” is a phrase he lives by. 
“Be honest with what you’re amazing at,” says James.  “If you provide a realistic timeline and exceed someone’s expectations, you will develop a great relationship.  And if you aren’t as good at something, be honest about it, then recommend someone who can do it.”
James proves that his business-relationship skills are top notch by providing the story below. 
Recently, my Kansas City based company, www.LeadTunnel.com, was approached to help increase revenue through marketing efforts for a Chicago based company, RushHourEvents.com, one of the nation’s largest super sale companies in the automotive industry. They also were talking to other companies, all much larger than us, one in particular outnumbered us 50-1 in employee size. I immediately set my company apart by providing a unique solution no one else had thought of, thanks to collaboration in a smaller space. The larger companies were merely taking orders while I was consulting. At first, unfortunately, my tailored solution was next shopped against larger competitors.
Knowing what my competitive advantages were versus my competition, and knowing that the prospective client was shopping; I encouraged them to talk to even more competitors of mine by suggesting ones they did not know. My then prospective customer finally said “I’ve never worked with someone who tells me to explore other companies, you must be really confident in your abilities.” (Success!) My contact at this perspective client began to tell me how I was differentiating myself from my competition: I always replied to his email questions, I always picked up my phone or returned his call quickly, I was continually sharing brainstorm sessions with him on the phone, and was pointing out and helping him avoid hurdles. I cranked up the competitive dial by providing them with raving fans and references who loved working with us. Soon he was sharing with me why he wanted to go with me versus the other people he was talking to, but his managers were encouraging him to get additional quotes. I remained patient, remained steadfast in my price, and continued to answer his questions. We began to talk about non business topics, and found out we both supported similar philanthropic endeavors. Soon, the next time I picked up the phone, we were awarded the business.
See what amazing business relationships can be made when you Think Big?
Written by Allison Way and James Moburg.  Allison is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners.  To read more of Allison's work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner as well as her articles on eZine, Newsvine, BrooWaha and Helium.  James is co-founder of LeadTunnel, a lead generation company that originates and delivers quality leads and data.

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