“Love is in the air!” On Sunday, February 14th, we´ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day, the day on which we commemorate romance. People get to express their emotions and show how they feel about one another by doing something special for their loved ones. It’s interesting that we have to pick just one day out of the year to express our affection to those that we really care about.  This demonstration of affection should be ongoing—every day, all the time, with all those special little things that touch the true essence of us: our feelings.

Throughout my entrepreneurial life, I have always strived to create an emotional business experience with my clients. I’m very thankful for those that decide to do business with me. As a token of my appreciation, I try to demonstrate to my clients that they are important to me by providing a caring and very professional experience, and I am always looking for ways to enrich that relationship. Entrepreneurs and small businesses have a huge advantage over big corporations. We can really add that human touch to our offering. We can easily create that “connection” that causes our clients to buy from us and stay with us for a long time.

People buy from people. And people like doing business with people who care about them. In business as in love we are always looking for ways to improve our relationships. Here are some basic principles that we can implement in our offering to get clients for life.

8 Principles To Apply For A Great Business Relationship

  1. Focus on your promise of value. Clearly state your unique selling proposition. We all have a set of unique values that we abide by. When you search for clients for life, look for those that will appreciate what you have to offer them. Look for the “chemistry.”
  2. Listen and communicate. When was the last time you asked your clients about their concerns, the issues they are facing in their business, why they buy from you, how satisfied they are with your services? Pay more attention to what is going on with your clients’ businesses and how their issues relate to you. Take immediate action to fix any areas of concern that may jeopardize the relationships.
  3. Forgive and be empathetic. As the business relationship grows, you get to know each other and trust is built. When you have a client that has been attentive to your needs, has a history of using your services, acknowledging your hard work and paying you on time, be sure to be there for that client in times of hardship. Nobody is exempt from making mistakes. However, if an uncomfortable situation becomes permanent, you should have an open conversation with your client to learn how you can work it out. Focus on the solution. Give it some time. If it does not improve, you may want to walk away.
  4. Nourish the relationship. Always look for ways to bring more benefit to your clients. You may need to learn a new skill or add a new piece of technology. Try to find value-added features that will enhance the relationship. Routines kill relationships. If your client sees that you are always looking to add value, the relationship will be strengthened, and it will be more difficult for your clients to “look for love” somewhere else.
  5. Be appreciative. Never take your clients for granted. Show gratitude for their loyalty and continuing business.
  6. Be committed. Tell your clients you are committed to the success of their businesses. You are committed to your clients’ success by always delivering on your promise of value. Also, be easily available to your clients. Never over promise and under deliver. Always avoid creating any disappointments for your clients. Your goal should always be to exceed your clients’ expectations.
  7. Be respectful and don’t cross any boundaries. Just because you are one of your client’s favorite vendors doesn’t mean you can take advantage of the relationship. Always be professional and respectful of your client’s time, needs and requirements. You can have disagreements but never allow your emotions to take over the situation. A relationship is a two-way street. So you should also set limits if your client tries to cross those boundaries with you.
  8. Avoid ultimatums. Always try to work together to address any issues. Avoid threats, ultimatums and any other coercive behavior. Instead, concentrate on building a solid foundation. If you are not happy with your client’s behavior, fire your client in a very polite way. Explain the reasons for the termination tactfully without any accusatory or snide language.

“It takes two to tango.” By applying these principles to your business and focusing more on the quality of your relationships than on the quantity, you will enjoy long-lasting and rewarding partnerships with your clients.  They will appreciate your human touch and think of you first the next time they are in need of service.