How to get the most out of your Business Partner, Sales Staff, Marketing Team, Investors and the Mail Man..
One of the most important aspects of business planning is developing & maintaining your relationships with your staff & business partners. In business, we have relationships with hundreds of different people. These could be with our clients, suppliers, staff, business partners and even our investors. As entrepreneurs, we are frequently reminded that ‘happy staff sell’, ‘happy businesses succeed’ and that ‘good communication = good business.’ But what does that actually mean? What is ‘good communication?’ How can we set up effective and efficient relationships with our business partners and investors, to get the best out of each other?
I found some answers to these questions in the strangest of places. I recently got married, and my wife asked me to listen to an audio book with her called ‘The Five Love Languages,’ by Gary Chapman. His theory is that a successful marriage consists of both parties communicating effectively and understanding which ‘love language’ each other speaks, and alter their communication accordingly.
The five love languages are;
• Talking and spending time together,
• Giving gifts,
• Positive affirmations,
• Undertaking acts of service and
• Physical touch.
We communicate using all five of these languages, however, we all put more importance on different languages. For example, some people appreciate a box of chocolates more than the dishwasher being emptied.
When I was reflecting on this book, I realised that there is actually little difference between a marriage and a business partnership. You spend all day with each other, five days a week. You might see each other more than your partners. With this in mind, Gary’s theory can be applied not only to your relationship with your spouse or partner but also to your business partners, staff, investors, customers and even your suppliers.
Have a look at the five languages below and try to work out which one you use to communicate with, then see if you can work out your business partner’s or even customer’s language. Challenge for this week: communicate using their language and see what happens.
Talking and Spending time together –
This can be anything from having face to face meetings, working in the same office, walking around the block or daily/hourly phone calls. So many customers and clients want face to face meetings before doing business. This is not because they want an excuse to have a coffee, it is because they speak this language and it is the most efficient way of communicating (And selling) with them.
Acts of Service –
An act of service is doing something for someone else. This could be as simple as sending invoices, proposals or updating management accounts. It could even include making the teas in the morning. Are you someone who appreciates your business partner taking care of a certain task? These are all Acts of Service.
Positive Affirmations –
This is being positive, encouraging and supportive about somebodies work. For example, if your PA attempts to design the weekly ‘mailchimp’ newsletter out of the blue, and it’s not right don’t criticize and put them down. Be positive about them trying something new and talk about ways they could improve it. This shows that you want to encourage them to grow and by being positive you will encourage them to go the extra mile again.
Some people particularly appreciate presents. Examples include buying a cake on staff members’ birthdays, Christmas bonuses, and sending token gifts to suppliers at Christmas. These small gestures can mean a lot to ‘gift giving communicators.’ It’s often about the thought, rather than the cost.
This might sound strange in the context of modern business, and should certainly be handled carefully. Clear boundaries are important: they are your business partner or PA, not your spouse. However, one of the oldest and best signs of appreciation is the pat on the back or a firm handshake. People often remember if someone important took the time to shake their hand. For some people physical contact means a lot.
So this week, explore and see what language you use to communicate and what language your business partner and sales leads use. See if you can speak their language when you communicate with them and what positive results you can achieve. Acceler8me can offer hr consultancy to help with you plan, implement and monitor your company structure and staffing breakdowns.