How To Make Business Relationships More Successful

Quick overview of how to become more effective at determining whether or not a person will become a client or customer.

How many more meetings do I have to go to with this person before we make a deal?

I asked that question a million times earlier in my career. That question is just one of many that I get asked at speaking engagements. While it’s an important question, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You have to discover many things about this individual before you can answer this question. Here are some additional ones:

  • Why is this person continuing to reach out to you?
  • What do you talk about when you get together?
  • Are they looking to sell you their product or get you to put them in front of your clients/network?
  • Are they getting help from you for free without being charged for your time/work?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can identify if that person is a prospect, lead, or distraction. Just so we’re on the same page about what the differences are, let’s do a real quick break down:

A prospect is a person who’s in your target market, who has the potential to become a client but has not expressed interest in learning more about what you do. If you’re like me, you most often meet these people at networking events or through social media. ProTip: You don’t meet these people at the gas station, grocery store, family bbq, or at the local bar.

A lead is a person who’s expressed interest in beginning a professional relationship with you. This person is focused on you helping them solve their problem, not them solving your problem. This can be hard to identify but if you ask yourself the question “Do they want me to buy from them or use their service?” this helps clarify what their agenda is.

A distraction is a person who is not a client, who’s building a friendship with you during your hours devoted to work or someone who isn’t helping you achieve your goals. While distractions happen, they can be managed if you find that you’re facing one.

These three distinctions help you determine whether or not to continue investing time and energy into building the relationship for the sake of growing your business. This isn’t you saying you don’t like that person and don’t wish them well. This is you setting healthy and realistic boundaries about who you want to spend time with and for what purpose. If you meet someone at a networking event and they end up being your long lost soul sister, by all means, continue to build the relationship and relish the friendship, outside of work – at the family bbq or at the local bar.

Note: This is not a free pass to treat people poorly. Good business relationships involve taking the time to learn about the other person and their needs/wants so you can offer solutions and even after that, they may or may not buy from you. This just speeds up your ability to determine whether or not to invest your time in relationships that aren’t helping you achieve your goals.