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Better relationships offer the ultimate differentiator and competitive advantage

Better relationships offer the ultimate differentiator and competitive advantage
Keynote speaker, trainer and author Matt Bird looks at how client-agency relationships can offer the ultimate differentiator.

The belief that building better agency and client relationships leads to better commercial creativity is at the heart of IPA President Ian Priest's much needed ADAPT agenda.

Stronger agency and client relationships are critically important to effectiveness whether the focus is on winning new business, growing old business or delivering more commercially creative business.

As the creator of Relationology, which studies the art and science of relationships, I analyse daily the significance of strong agency and client relationships around winning new business with a desired end result of less pitches and better partnerships.

Here is an extract from my book ‘Relationology - 101 Secrets to grow your business through the power of relationships’ to highlight my approach.

Secret 98: Relationships are the ultimate differentiator

It’s been below freezing most nights for a week and suddenly your boiler stops working. The car has started making an unusual noise that sounds terminal and threatens to spoil your plans to go away next weekend.

You have recently moved house and need to find a babysitter to look after the kids while you and your wife go out on a much-needed night out. Where are you going to turn? Are you going to trust some directory to signpost you to a boiler engineer, car mechanic or child minding service?

People prefer to do business with people they know and trust rather than people they don’t. It is built into our human nature. But how do we find the people who will become long-term features of our life? This is when it comes down to three factors:

  • Personal recommendation of someone you know and trust.
  • Professional referral from another supplier you know and trust (it is not worth the risk of them suggesting someone they couldn’t bank on).
  • “Word of mouth” reputation through someone you know and trust.

It takes time and care to build relationships and reputation, however once established they become invaluable to winning new business.

So much new business development relies on old fashioned direct mail and cold calling, which is increasingly ineffective.

I was amused recently to see a job advert for a head of New Business Development which was described as “Urgent”. My view is that if it was urgent, it was too late!

If you need an accountant for a large business you may consider the big four professional services firms. However, from the outside they all look pretty much the same. So you are likely to choose an accountant from within a firm where you know and trust somebody.

Relationships offer the ultimate differentiator and competitive advantage.

In fact, I’d like to take it one step further. You are probably willing to pay more to work with somebody you know and trust rather than somebody you don’t. Knowledge and trust is commercially valuable.

ACTION: The business benefit of relationships is new business. What sort of relationship do you have and do you aspire to have as an agency, with your clients and prospective clients?

Matt Bird helps leaders and organisations build the relationships needed to achieve greater success. Follow him on Twitter.

He is the creator of Relationology and works as a keynote speaker, trainer and coach specialising in new business development and client relationships.

This blog is an extract from his new book ‘Relationology - 101 Secrets to grow your business through the power of relationships’ available now from Amazon.

Learn more about IPA President Ian Priest's groundbreaking ADAPT agenda.

Last updated 02/06/2014

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