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Rebuilding Bridges: How to Salvage a Broken Business Relationship

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Business relationships are just as focused and dependent upon trust as any other relationship. Sometimes, deals fall through, deadlines aren’t met, or the result doesn’t meet expectations. Failings such as these can lead to resentment, but that doesn’t have to be the end of a business relationship. When you’re thinking about whether you should try to fix a damaged business relationship, keep this framework in mind.

Assess the Relationship’s Value 

It may sound harsh, but sometimes it’s better to let a relationship go rather than labor to salvage it. You need to make sure your effort is going to pay off. While this may sound like a cold calculation, rebuilding a business relationship is different from regaining trust from a friend. Emotional attachment may be important to personal relationships, but in the business world, both parties need to bring something to the table.

Know When You’re Wrong

We build relationships on trust, and if that trust is broken, it can be very difficult to repair. Rebuilding trust is possible, but it takes a great deal of effort and sometimes takes quite a long time. First, you need to take accountability for anything you may have done to contribute to the failed relationship. It can be difficult to recognize our own faults, but in the business world, it’s crucial that you’re able to own your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Remember, you’re not just representing yourself – you represent your organization. Personal pride shouldn’t impact those types of decisions.

Open the Communication Channels

Once you have accounted for where you may have gone wrong, it’s time to open a dialog. This can be most difficult when trying to regain a frustrated client or customer, but it’s not impossible. Ask the other party what could have been done differently and if there’s anything you can do to resolve the issue now. Sometimes a singular issue can uncover a larger problem within your organization, so take the time to hear the other party, and then ask if you can do anything to improve your organization as a whole.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This adage rings true in the business world. If you’ve determined where a business relationship has gone wrong, believe that it’s worth salvaging, and have reopened communications with the other party, it’s time to start making moves. If both parties have something to gain from continuing to do business with each other, it makes the process much easier. While emotions don’t play as much of a role in the business world as they do with personal relationships, the wronged party needs to see that you’re willing to accept failings on your part and are taking measurable steps to correct them.

Any business relationship has potential, so they’re almost always worth salvaging. Take the time to extend an olive branch and try to rectify your past mistakes. You don’t want to be known as an organization that doesn’t play well with others.

How to Keep the Client After You Made the Sale

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Oftentimes, people labor under the impression that once a sale is made, the sales and negotiation process ends. This, however, could not be further from the truth. The initial acquisition is the first in an extended series of talks, negotiations, compromises, and pitches that will continue throughout the newly established working relationship.

Seek Feedback

Feedback is just as useful to you as it is to maintaining relationships with your clients. They want to be heard, and you can use the information to improve the product or service, or even your own sales tactics. Engaging your customers will show them you genuinely care and haven’t forgotten about them. When consumers don’t like a product or service, they are likely to not return rather than voicing their opinion. Well, they will voice their opinion; it just won’t be with you. However, if you take the time to ask them for feedback, they’ll be more inclined to seek your service in the future because they know you care about their needs.

Stay Organized

If you’re maintaining ongoing relationships with clients, you probably have a variety of client types with an assortment of needs. Keeping your clients organized by what their wants and needs enables you to make more meaningful connections with them. It also helps you make better sales in the future.

Knowing exactly what customers bought and how they feel about it makes them feel respected and “special,” and keeping their information systematically organized is the most efficient way to do this. Additionally, keeping things organized internally gives you insight into your product or service. Are you consistent in your delivery? Do you have a set schedule for following up with clients? Do all your employees abide by the same sales policies? Answering these questions can improve your business and your ongoing relationship with clients.

Look For More Opportunities

Don’t build relationships with just one person within a company. Get to know other people within the office and identify his or her needs. Make an effort to understand the company culture, goals, and mission. You never know; someone else in the company could come to you for a product, or someone could move on to another company and tell them about your exceptional service. Keeping your options open and eyes peeled allows you to identify opportunities in the future. Plus, it’s easier to maintain a relationship with your client if his or her coworkers like you, too.

 

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickhull/2013/12/06/tools-for-entrepreneurs-to-retain-clients/

http://www.inc.com/adam-heitzman/5-strategies-guaranteed-to-improve-client-retention.html

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217513