What do you think is the foundation of all of (business) relationships?
I put the word business in parentheses because I do believe what I shared below can be applied to all relationships, but since I'm an entrepreneur and I wrote this on my company site, I'm going to focus this blog article on business relationships.
Some of us might say that you need one or a combination of the following to build a foundation in a business relationship: common services, needs or wants, industry connection, commonality, experience, mutual benefits or equal exchange, consistency, follow-through, deliver as promised, etc.
Although the above have a place in the business relationship they are not the foundation. The cornerstone of business relationships is TRUST & VALUE. Not one or the other but it's essential to have both or the relationship will either be static, shallow, purely transactional, miserable, disruptive, destructive, selfish and at some point, it will just flat-out disintegrate.
So why TRUST & VALUE?
As I said we're going to look at it from a business perspective, but I believe this could be a universal theory for all meaningful and long-lasting relationships, including within teams or organizations.
Regardless of whether we are talking about Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Customer (B2C) long-term relationships can not be formed without full TRUST & VALUE, transactions and exchanges can definitely happen without full trust or value but unfortunately in that case it's only a transaction or an exchange, not a relationship.
Products and services can not be sold repeatedly for continuous profit if a brand is not TRUSTED & VALUED. Try to have one without the other the relationship will eventually falter or will just result in a limited-time exchange or transactions of goods and/or services until something better (or more trustworthy and valued) comes along.
For non-profits that are reading this, and may not think this applies to your organization, you are still a business and if people don't TRUST & VALUE your cause or initiative then they will not donate or will only donate once if they don't continue to TRUST and VALUE your brand and the cause. But you need both to build loyalty and longevity!
EXAMPLE: TRUST & VALUE relationship vs a transaction/exchange:
If you purchase a certain brand vehicle because in the past your parents did and/or because you believed in the brand promise and messaging over years of advertising, there is a certain level of TRUST from those experiences.
Unfortunately, the VALUE hasn't been truly established because you haven't had a one-on-one brand experience. Your parents bought the car so you were just along for the ride and the advertising is just auditory and visual communication that captured your interests and preferences for a new vehicle.
Now, if you decide to buy the vehicle based on your two TRUSTED experiences above but don't VALUE the brand there is a strong chance that this relationship could end sooner than later. I know, I know, the VALUE can't be determined until the brand experience actually happens. I agree, so when the brand experience happens the importance of providing VALUE to that customer is essential, but the customer also has to experience VALUE in the vehicle with and without influence. The direct experience of driving the vehicle day after day, month after month, and year after year in collaboration with key points of contact from the brand to ensure expectations are being fulfilled is what will build brand VALUE to the customer. This will also reinforce their initial TRUST in the brand that started from the time they were a child and/or support the advertising messages. Ultimately, the TRUST & VALUE has to be established and nurtured but can erode or be severed if the TRUST and/or VALUE is neglected or broken repeatedly or worst-case scenario, severely.
What is the takeaway aside from needing TRUST & VALUE to build a long-term business relationship?
Quick Sidebar before I answer the above question: I know there are some people who might say, well transactions and exchanges are still relationships. Okay, I admit that there is technically a connection there, but it's more notional than a real connection that is intended to go deeper than the surface exchange or transaction. TRUST and VALUE relationships involve consistent and long-term commitment. Otherwise, neither party really has any skin in the game to build any TRUST and VALUE, it's only centered around self-fulfillment for a particular need/want. Basically, I give you get, and vice versa. This means if there is no real TRUST and VALUE behind the transactions or exchange there is no real commitment to be loyal to that particular brand or customer, whether B2B or B2C. They can always go elsewhere to fulfill that need/want.
Now, back to the question before the sidebar. What is the takeaway...?
STOP MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS AND BUILD THEM.
TRUST & VALUE are built based on specific actions that we commit to doing in a relationship for someone else i.e. communication, reliability, consistency, collaboration/teamwork, adaptability, leadership, service, kindness, time spent, community, follow-up, forgiveness, accountability, passion, vulnerability, purpose, compassion, respect, selflessness, etc. I can go on but you understand where I'm coming from. COMMITTED ACTIONS, not just transactions or exchanges build TRUST & VALUE.
I leave you with a thought and a quick story to consider that could potentially change our thinking.
BUSINESS ACRONYM AND ACTION TO CHANGE IN SALES & MARKETING:
CRM = Customer Relationship Management to CRB = Customer Relationship Building
THE TRUST & VALUE STORY:
“ A father said to his daughter, “You graduated with honors, here is a car I acquired many years ago. It is several years old. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you.
The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father, and said, “They offered me $1,000 because it looks very worn out.”
The father said, ”Take him to the pawn shop.” The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father and said, ”The pawn shop offered $100 because it was a very old car.”
The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car. The daughter took the car to the club, returned and told her father, ”Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it since it’s a Nissan Skyline R34, an iconic car and sought out after by many.”
The father said to his daughter, ”The right place values you the right way. If you are not valued, do not be angry, it means you are just in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.”
Let's build TRUSTED and VALUED relationships.