The business world has a reputation for fostering a “dog-eat-dog” mentality, where everyone must keep their cards close to the chest and compete to get ahead. But the reality is actually quite different. The relationships you build, both with colleagues and customers, are actually as much a part of sustained success and profitability as other important factors. You need people around you who support your vision and strategy and customers that believe and trust you.
Business Is a Team Sport
Morag Barrett, the founder of SkyTeam and author of the book “Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships” explains that people encounter four types of relationships in the business sector: the ally, the supporter, the rival, and the adversary. The ally is a person that is on your side through thick and thin. The supporter will support you when it is easy to do so, but might falter when things get rocky. Your rivals compete with you for resources and promotions, while an adversary deliberately undermines your work, either overtly or covertly.
According to Barrett, the best way to foster and nurture successful business relationships is to operate with an “ally mentality.” In other words, try to be the ally to others that you hope they will be for you by generously collaborating and sharing resources, rather than hoarding them. Be open and honest with your colleagues and demonstrate that you can be counted on to follow through on your promises. While you will likely not be able to win over every individual as an ally, you can slowly build a formidable team that you can count on to support you.
The Customer Is Always Right
In today’s business world, the idea of putting the customer’s needs first almost sounds old-fashioned. But it is unfortunately not uncommon for companies to utilize deceptive or manipulative marketing techniques or service practices when dealing and communicating with their customers. It is done with the intent of boosting the company’s bottom line in the short-term, but in the long-term, practices such as these are actually detrimental to profits.
Companies who can cultivate authentic, open, and honest relationships with their customers are much more likely to retain those customers for years or decades to come. Building a customer base that trusts you to treat them fairly and creating products up to your customers’ expectations will give you a much more sustainable and reliable profit margin.