Recognise a business relationship for what it is!

When it comes to business, suppliers and customers don’t want ‘friendship’. They want good products at a fair price.

Managing for profit by Peter Hughes

Recently, I had to replace an aging vehicle. To take advantage of an excellent one-off deal, I needed bridging finance for a few weeks.

“No problem,” said the dealer, “give me your banking details and I’ll sort it out.”

She phoned back a few days later to tell me the application had been turned down. She suggested I follow up myself, which I did, with no success! Despite having had a 35-year ‘relationship’ with the bank, I received a curt: ‘“we regret your application is declined”.

I ended up buying the car without their help, but the incident got me thinking!

Business vs Personal
Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the secret of their success is largely due to building great relationships. I don’t deny the wisdom of this, but the way the bank treated me made me ponder the value of these ‘relationships’.

Is the effort made in building a business relationship really worth it? Is it naïve to assume that loyalty to a specific supplier, say, will result in a return of loyalty?

Well, it depends. First of all, you need to know what a business relationship is and what it is not:

  • Business is primarily about selling a product that someone needs. It’s not a deep, personal relationship, such as that which exists between family members and close friends.
  • Business relationships invariably depend on interactions between a number of different people. Only in very small businesses will it depend on regular contact between the same two people, an essential feature in developing an enduring relationship.
    Put simply, never confuse a business relationship with a personal one!

Don’t waste your time
Understandably, you and some of your staff are bound to develop close relationships with one or more individuals in an organisation doing regular business with your company. But keep in mind that suppliers and customers don’t want to be ‘friends’ with you!