Writing a couple of business relationship development books has been a ton of fun. Sadly, I could easily write another book dedicated to the many business relationships I screwed up. It wasn’t the lack of skills or disposition to connect with people. I wish I had a better view of the many conversations I had with people (across different channels) and the impact of my words on the nature of the business relationship.
In my book,
- Relationship Definition Insights: Insights into terms, conditions, and outcome expectations. When business relationships form both parties define the terms of the relationship and the conditions that must be met to achieve equitable outcomes. We define the value of the relationship based on what it costs us to meet its terms and conditions. Words like unsure, unfair, unclear, value, cost, and expectations are warning signs that relationship outcomes need further definition/clarity. In particular, conversations that challenge the investment (money, time, effort) people must pay in exchange for your value.
- Relationship Centricity Insights: Insights into the particular needs of individuals, organizations, or industries based on values and culture. We see the world through a subjective lens shaped by who we are as people and the culture of our organizations. Industry jargon also adds a tint to that lens. Conversations that describe specific needs, characteristics, capacity, and circumstances show us where individuals’ or organizations’ unique needs require special attention.
- Relationship Engagement Insights: Insights into the level of communication, responsiveness, and participation required/expected in the relationship. Relationship stages require different types and levels of engagement. Conversations that describe responsiveness, curiosity, discovery, anticipation, and persistence help us measure engagement so we can act to increase or decrease it.
- Relationship Accountability & Knowledge Insights: Insights about your ability to meet your obligations to the relationship. We fail to meet our business relationship obligations for two main reasons: Ability & Accountability (lacking the ability or choosing not to act on that ability). If you listen carefully to your conversations you will hear statements that translate to I don’t know or I don’t want to. One reflects a lack of knowledge and the other accountability. Both can be corrected, but you must first identify them for what they are.
- Relationship Transparency Insights: Insights into barriers to trust. It is human nature to fear entering a room without some idea of what is on the other side of the door. Lack of transparency, accessibility, and candor become barriers to trust and keep people from choosing your company. Conversations that point out dishonesty, deceptiveness, and untrustworthiness should sound the alert that something needs your immediate action.
- Relationship Staging Insights: Insights into experience expectations. People bring their expectations of what it is like to do business with or work with you. They have a picture of what that experience feels and looks like. You spend a lot of time and money to stage that experience and all that goes with it. People are talking about it. Are you listening? Sometimes you stage the experience to increase transparency or accountability. Sometimes you stage the experience to meet cultural needs. Sometimes staging the experience is a requirement to meet contractually defined obligations. Conversations that describe that staged experience as effective, functional, easy, accessible, or enjoyable are important to discover (as are their opposite… dysfunctional, difficult, etc.).
Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking. Bernard Baruch
If you want the type of customer loyalty and employee commitment that leads to business success, you need better conversation intelligence. You need conversation intelligence to manage your business relationships and guide them proactively in the right direction.
What do you think? Do you have a strategy for extracting intelligence from your conversations with customers and about customers? We can help you with the strategies and tools that make Conversation Intelligence a reality.