Effective Business Relationships

  • By Mercia Group
  • 8 October 2012 00:00

Following on from our last blog about turning clients into advocates, we looked at how you could work with your existing clients to create new business. In this blog we focus on relationships and personality styles so you can adopt the right strategies when dealing with clients.

What is a business relationship?

An association between two parties that consist of, and are affected by

  • A shared objective
  • Independent needs and goals
  • Perceptions of each others' goals and objectives
  • Rules of engagement / boundaries that describe the relationship transactions
  • Similarities and differences in style / culture / behaviour / personalities

Steps to effective relationships Respect: To what extent do you understand and respect your contacts' perspective, his or her 'map of the world'? Trust: To what extent do you develop and maintain trust through your behaviour? Rapport: To what extent are you attuned to your contacts' social style?

PEOPLE make the difference

What happens when the client believes that experience or expertise, price and levels of service are pretty much the same - no matter whom they instruct?

They tend to choose the consultant they like, trust and respect the most. What's more, they will keep their business with that firm - as long as they are treated in a way that matches their expectations.

The problem is, no two prospects react in precisely the same way....so how do you decide what they are looking for and adapt your approach to provide it?

Social Styles is a useful tool that shows how to understand the chemistry of business relationships; analyse first impressions, brief 'phone conversations, information from letters to decide the kind of person you are dealing with and know what they're looking for. To understand the styles in which they feel comfortable doing business; develop your versatility.

Understanding how people react is equally important when it comes to getting the best from staff and colleagues. It saves so much time and hassle if everyone concentrates on the real issues instead of clashes of temperament.

There are four main personality profiles. First consultants must learn about their own profile and the effect they have on others. Then they must learn to recognise the profiles of their clients and prospects. Each profile has markedly different characteristics and needs to be approached in a different way.

Spotting the difference

People are different. Different at thinking about things:

  • Decision-making
  • Use of time
  • Pace of working
  • Communication
  • Handling emotions
  • Managing stress
  • Dealing with conflicting opinions

Social styles We conclude our blog on creating effective relationships by looking at the four social styles and these are summarised in the boxes below:


There are two dimensions of behaviour dividing the different social styles: assertiveness and responsiveness.

Assertiveness is defined as the amount of control one person tries to exert over other people and situations. It is the forcefulness a person uses to express his or her thoughts, feelings, and emotions to other people. Assertive behaviour is divided into high-assertiveness and low-assertiveness.

Responsiveness is the readiness to which a person expresses emotions and develops relationships. Responsive behaviour is divided into high-responsiveness and low-responsiveness. The download at the end of this blog will give you insights on the four different styles and practical tips on how to handle them.


Permanent care: Delivering a quality client service is achieved by permanently caring about your clients. This care is demonstrated by:

  • Understanding and managing clients' needs and expectations from the start and throughout the relationship
  • Finding out what happens to clients by seeking client feedback and acting upon what you learn
  • Conducting post mortems when problems occur and acting to prevent recurrence
  • Setting high standards yourself for your team to follow and
  • Involving the whole team in client care- ask for their ideas and let them put these ideas into practice.

The 'PEOPLE' factor: Clients don't just buy products or services, they buy benefits and solutions to problems and they buy PEOPLE.

Positive Approach | Easy Access | Open on Fees | Prompt Action | Lasting Relations | Enthusiasm

From the various matters discussed during this course, you will hopefully have been able to identify areas where you feel you or your firm could improve your approach to managing client relationships.


You might also be interested in these articles…