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How To Build Executive Relationships
In today's video I share tips on the noble art of building executive relationships.
Selling high value products and services to corporate organisations can be the most profitable and rewarding business to be in. But it can also be tough to win those clients.
Ideally you want to be positoned as a trusted partner to your client organisations. And this only happens to the degree that you build trust and credibility with key executives in those organisations.
We don’t build relationships with organisations, we build relationships with people.
Hi, it's Ian here, welcome to another five minute marketing tip.
Selling high value products and services to large organizations, to corporates, can be one of the most profitable and rewarding activities you can do.
In order to do it, you need to learn the noble art of executive relationship building. It is the senior executives in those organizations that make the decisions that are influential over whether you get hired, over whether you're seen as a trusted partner of that organization, over whether you get involved early on and get to help shape what it is they do, or whether you're just seen as a vendor that might call in later and you're competing on price.
Learn how to build those executive relationships, and you can have a very successful business. I'll show you some of the key steps after the break.
Hi, welcome back. When you are working with corporate organizations, usually your relationship with them develops in three phases.
Usually you start off being a kind of commodity vendor. You may have not have done any work with them, or you may just have done one or two pieces of work, but they don't really view you as different to anyone else in your category. After you go through all sorts of procurement hoops, they won't pay you anymore than they pay any of their other suppliers, and either you have to access it via proposals and all sorts of stuff like that.
If you continue to work with them and you do great work, then you become a regular supplier. Sometimes they may actually reach out to you, to see whether you're interested in doing work in certain areas when they're looking for help in that area, and you may be paid a small premium. You don't have to got through all the initial hoops that you had to go through when you first started working with them.
Ideally, you want to establish yourself as a trusted partner. When you're a trusted partner, a number of things happen. Firstly the organization sees you as being a real expert in your field, someone who understands them as an organization, who can really help them achieve results, so you get paid a premium. You get chosen in preference to do all this, but also critically you get called in early on. Rather than just waiting until they want to hire someone for a certain job, and then kind of putting out to tender or calling a number of suppliers in, they'll call you in to give them some advise and guidance early on in their decision making process where they still kind of trying to figure out what the problem is and how they're going to deal with it. That of course puts you in pole position to win any work that comes out of it. It's a really great position to be in.
How do you get there? You don't build relationships with organizations, you build relationships with individual people, in particular the senior executives who make the decisions in that corporate organization.
It happens step by step, so it doesn't happen in one great kind of sweep. It happens in all the little interactions you have with them. Some of those would be meetings you have when you're working with them, or sales meetings you might have before you work with them, or you might be doing a presentation and they see you et cetera at cetera. Ideally, you want to proactively initiate interactions with them, because you're not going to get enough interactions, and they are not going to happen regularly enough. They're not going to happen in the right place and time to build that relationship if you just rely ad hoc on things happening.
What I mean by proactively initiating interactions is that you for example might give them a call, or you might email them something they might find useful. Something that builds your relationship with them, or even when you have a planned project meeting with them, doing the work you're doing with them, a little bit of preparation before hand and thinking not only how can I give them an update on how the project is going and how we can get our milestones hit, but also how can I extend and build my relationship with that executive, so we build credibility and we build trust all the time, really pays off. How do you do that? Well the answer is you'll have to think about it proactively.
My process is that every week I sit down, I have a Monday morning coffee meeting with myself, and I sit down with my organizer for the week, I plan out what I'm going to be doing for the rest of the week, with all my kind of tasks and things and projects that I'm working on, but one of the activities I look out is, out of my shortlist of executives I want to build my relationships with, and it has to be a short list, you can't build relationships with a whole lot of executives at once, just doesn't work like that. Out of the shortlist of 5,10,15 executives you're trying to build relationships with, what can I do for any of them this week to strengthen the relationship. Can I send them something useful, can I introduce them to someone that might be valuable to them. Can I invite them to an event, I might have just go for coffee with them, I might have phoned them up and just chat over industry gossip.
In order to come up with good ideas, you need a couple of things, one is you need to understand them, so it relies on your questioning skills and your monitoring skills to understand their business, their industry, their particular organization, what it is that they care about and they're interested in. You take that information and every week you review it, and then you think well, in line with those things they care about, can I do anything to help them, or that's going to be valuable for them this week. You won't think of something valuable every week, and they probably won't want you in contact with them every week personally, but if you think about them every week, than every 2,3,4,5 weeks, you will think of something that will build your relationships. It will be way more than if just rely on something coming up, something occurring to you during the week, something happening in the meetings you happen to have scheduled with them.
Really the secret to executive relationship building is to plan it it and deal with it proactively, and to be regularly thinking what can I do to build my relationship, strengthen my relationship, to build credibility and trust with this person. It also helps if you've got a variety of skills or a certain skills involved in relationship building. It will be asking great questions, positioning yourself as an expert in both the field you work in, and business in general to bringing helpful results for them. Also it helps if you have a barrage of tools so you can use to shortcut the process so that you can know what's going on in their business and with them, without having to do it from scratch every time.
I have documented this process in more detail, I've documented the skills you need, and I've documented some of the tools you can use, the shortcuts, in a little PDF document here. Free report you get down below called The Executive Relationship Building Tool Kit. If you go down there, you put your email address there and you can download that for free. That will really help you zoom up that path towards having trusted partner relationships with senior executives. Download that down below, it will really help you. I'll see you next week for another five minute marketing tip, cheers.
Want a Copy of My “Executive Relationship Building Toolkit”?
I've created a free guide to the detailed process, key skills and tools for building relationships with corporate executives. You can download a free copy below: