Relationships of any kind can be difficult. Whether the relationship is between friends, family, significant others or a business relationship, they are complex. At the basis of each relationship, you are dealing with another person who has their own set of motivations, needs and wants.
As I thought about how we are building successful relationships with our clients at dataxu, I had a few revelations:
- We meet our clients in person and get to know them on a personal level
- We listen to our clients to understand their business needs, goals and motivations
- We ask our clients questions because we are interested in them
- We genuinely care about our clients
And then it hit me, we build successful relationships with our clients because we date them!
I know what you may be saying, that is a little creepy. Hear me out first: As someone who has spent their late 20s and early 30s dating in Boston and has been working with clients for the last 15 years, I have an interesting perspective on the intersection.
In order to build a long-lasting partnership, you have to “date” your clients. Here are my top 4 pieces of advice:
- Meet in person.
- In today’s day in age, so much of our communication is done behind a screen. This is the same in business and dating. We are slowly getting away from the importance of meeting face to face. Whether dating or in business, tone and emotions can be hard to read via an email or text and lots can get lost in translation. It is vital to connect on a personal level. You can learn so much about a person when you meet them in person.
- The most frustrating part of any relationship is when you feel like your counterpart isn’t listening to you. How many times have you been in an argument with a friend, with family, or significant other and said, “That’s not what I am saying, you are not listening.” Why would the “need to be heard” change in business? When we listen, we get a better understanding of the other person’s needs, wants, perspectives and motivations.
- Ask questions.
- I have been on plenty of dates where my date didn’t ask me a single question about me. Is that someone I really want to invest my time with? Business relationships are the same, but with an added layer of complication. We sometimes don’t want to ask questions because we feel we should already know the answer, or we make assumptions. This leads to miscommunication, wasted time back and forth, and possibly not meeting the partner’s goal. Asking questions shows you care, shows you were listening and ensures you are working toward the goal that is most important to your client.
- Be honest.
- In life and in business, things don’t always go according to plan. If you are running late for a date, it is better to be honest with the person about why you are running late versus just not responding or making up an excuse. The same rules apply for a business relationship. Whether there was a technical error or a delay in a timeline, it is better to be open, honest and work towards a solution.
Okay, maybe we don’t truly “date” our clients, but we do form personal connections that lead to long term partnerships. The old adage “don’t take it personal it’s just business,” is out the door. People are involved in business and it is personal.
In all our partnerships we strive to build long lasting relationships with our clients by focusing on their success. Like all relationships it is a two-way street, and the partnerships we have grown are the most evident in the feedback from our clients. “We pride ourselves on bringing unique solutions and offerings to our clients. Steph is great to work with to develop the custom offerings. She listens to what we need and is honest on any limitations we may have to work through” – Jacob Beck Programmatic Associate Director at DWA
And for the part you have been waiting for. Is she still single? Is she spending all her time with clients?
After 10 years of non-listeners, no-question askers, and behind-the-screen hiders – I met a great guy on Bumble. As we grow our relationship, we have agreed to always be each other’s partner. We talk things out, listen to each other and at all times agree to be honest with one another other. We even have weekly meetings where we discuss our KPIs (life goals). Just kidding, we decided monthly made more sense. 😉