Written by Briquelle Neyens, Skyline Exhibits
2020 was a year that none of us could have expected. Although the coronavirus pandemics’ impact on the event industry was not something that we had control over, it’s still our job to do what we can to pick up the pieces and help move forward.
When considering all that occurred in 2020 from a business standpoint…
It was a whirlwind. Keeping up with and coming to terms with ‘essential employees’ vs ‘non-essential,’ how to safely conduct business and keep customers and employees healthy, how to completely shut down for weeks; it’s nothing that any business could have adequately planned for. For some businesses, the economic hardship and unexpected circumstances were too much.
However, for many of the businesses who’ve remained intact as we tiptoe into 2021, there is likely one consistent factor that ties many of them together, and that’s maintaining the foundation of their business relationships. A business with strong relationships is one that has other’s backs and one that is supported by others on more than solely a ‘doing business’ level.
Building new relationships and nurturing old ones is key to business success in 2021.
If your business learned anything in 2020, let it be that the power of relationships is invaluable. Hopefully, your business was able to see how its existing relationships were helpful in a time of such uncertainty and hardship.
With strong relationships comes trust, and with trust comes a sense of support. Being a well-liked and favoured business to a customer or supplier is quite advantageous. Here’s an example of why:
While one business might have a strong relationship with a buyer, that buyer may not have as strong of a relationship with another one of their suppliers. When COVID-19 caused the future to become foggy, and when faced with having to choose between the two, the buyer would likely have chosen to keep working with the business they’ve built a stronger relationship with.
This goes to show that 2020 proved how relationships can truly make or break a business when times get hard, which is why it’s important to carry this understanding into 2021.
Here are a few quick tips for how you can start working on building and nurturing relationships for your business:
You never know when times are going to get tough (clearly, 2020, *cough cough*) so it’s always in your favour to have a strong business network. No matter how big or small of a company, connections are everything. Making relationships a top priority is a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the long run.
- Exhibit at trade shows and build connections there. Ensure that genuine interactions take place with each of your sales reps and anyone else on your show floor by training them well and setting expectations high.
- Serve and educate. Always do your best to provide value. Whether it’s a solution to a client’s exact problem or an educational freebie, find ways to constantly add value when building relationships.
- When speaking to buyers, be as open and honest as you possibly can. When sharing information about past performance and future outlooks, creating trust off the bat will allow you to build a stronger relationship faster.
- Provide a personal tour. Seeing makes believing much easier for buyers, and a personal tour of your business and its offerings can reinforce why you’re a great fit. Not only will it help seal the deal, but a face-to-face connection can really level up a business relationship. Tours don’t have to be face-to-face, especially these days virtual tours can also do the trick!
- Listen well and follow up. If a customer offers feedback, pay attention, be receptive, and take this information seriously. Let them know what you’ll do to better their experience the next time to show them they’re heard.
- Be a breeze to work with. To make sure clients enjoy doing business with you, do your best to fit into their schedule and always be available if they have questions or concerns. Ensure there is always a way to reach someone from your company.
- Be persistent, but not overbearing. Building relationships takes time. Put in the effort when it makes sense, but don’t ever push clients past their level of comfort if you haven’t yet put in the time to build that relationship with them.
- Nurture your relationships. Once a strong relationship has been built, that doesn’t mean it will stick if you stop putting in the effort that you did from the start. Keep in touch with clients, share updates, congratulate them on successes, let them know about new products, and remind them that you’re there for any of their needs. Proper use of a CRM database system can help you to make notes on important matters going on in your key clients’ businesses (or even their personal lives) so that you remember to bring it up or ask about it the next time you communicate.
Be sure that you’re constantly building and nurturing strong relationships so that you can continue growing your business with confidence in your foundation.
For more trade show tips click here!