If you try to manipulate or trap others by deliberately withholding critical information or if you pursue hidden agendas, you risk losing your relationship and your industry reputation. On the other hand, when you expose loopholes voluntarily, you assure the people you depend on that they will not be taken advantage of. Demonstrate true partnership by watching their back, not stabbing it! If you want the benefit of the spirit and not just the words, of your agreements, don’t put them on the defensive.
What you are doing and why, should be clear. If you leave them in the dark, guessing about your intentions, they will worry about what you’re up to. Schedule regular meetings with your suppliers, creditors, your own team and your outsourced services. Share vital information early and often to alleviate their anxiety. The more they know about you, your plans and your status, the more confident they’ll feel about making allowances for you.
Build strategic alliances
Discover who wins and how if you win. These are your natural strategic allies. Treat these key players like business partners. Share your plans for growth. Show them how your plans for expansion will translate into increased business for them! Reduce your need for capital by gaining their cooperation. Perhaps a long-term contract will ease their mind about potentially losing your business after building it. Give them a reason to give you better prices, longer terms and even hold on to your quantity discounted purchases until you need them.
Don’t blame others or try to cover-up your mistakes. You will only exacerbate the situation, lose you precious credibility and hurt your relationship. When you look at your cash flow projections and realize you can’t make a payment on time, call your creditors immediately. Don’t wait for them to call you. Look at your receivables and have a payment plan ready to bring your account current. Show empathy for the risk they have taken on you. Show empathy for the bills they have to pay with your payment. Give them the time they need to make other arrangements. When everything goes according to plan, they know little about you. But, when there is a glitch, mistake or problem, how you handle it, shouts volumes.
Service what you sell
When you won’t leave them alone until you make a sale, but are nowhere can’t be found to fix a problem, you kill your long-term business security and you invite competitors. Don’t let your poor customer service say, “I have your money and you’re stuck with my product!”
Customer service says more about your integrity than your product itself. Don’t make your customers feel obligated to “warn” others about their bad experience. Treat them like you would a close friend. Make them loyal advocates. Don’t throw advertising dollars away trying to get new customers when you are losing the one’s you have.
Trust is not something you get instantly. It is built on good, reliable behavior over time. Telling experiences that build or break trust can reduce the time. Trust can easily be lost in the early days of a relationship. How you handle an awkward situation is “the tell” that validates their risk or causes their regret. Just saying, “Trust me” won’t work in business. You can’t ask for trust, you have to earn it!